Hibiscus Iced Tea
Agua de Jamaica which translates as “hibiscus water” is a typical agua fresca to accompany the mid-day meal in Mexico. It is sweet, tart, delicious and really refreshing all at the same time.
You prepare it by steeping hibiscus flowers, called flor de jamaica to produce a concentrate that you dilute with water and sweeten with sugar. Jamaica is a great alternative to soda.
Sweet or Tart?
Mexicans tend to prefer their agua de jamaica very sweet. If you add the full 1/2 cup of sugar called for in the recipe to make a pitcher of jamaica it will be sweet like served in Mexico. We prefer it on the tart side. If you prefer it on the tart side only add 1/4 of sugar per picture.
How to Make Agua de Jamaica Drink (Hibiscus Iced Tea)
It’s really quite simple to prepare. Follow these steps.
- Start with two cups of hibiscus flowers (jamaica). Fresh flowers produce the best tasting drink. If the flowers are pliable they are fresh. If they are hard and brittle they aren’t fresh and your jamaica won’t be as tasty.
- Add the hibiscus flowers to 2 quarts of water. Be sure you add the flowers to cold water. This makes a difference.
- Bring the water to a boil and as soon as it boils reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes turn off the heat and allow the concentrate to cool.
- As the flowers steep they absorb water and will sink to the bottom of the pot. That’s how you will know that the concentrate is ready to use.
- Pour the concentrate through a strainer to remove the flowers.
Pour the concentrate into a small pitcher or jar to store. You started the process with 2 quarts of water but after steeping the hibiscus you will only have 1 1/2 quarts of concentrate. The flowers absorb quite a bit of water.
A glass pitcher or jar is preferable for storage. Plastic containers seem to give it an off-taste. Also, the concentrate tends to stain plastic.
- To prepare the drink, pour 1/3 of the concentrate into a 1/2 gallon pitcher.
- Add the sugar and water to fill the pitcher. Stir vigorously to dissolve the sugar.
- Serve over ice or well chilled.
Agua de Jamaica Recipe
- 2 cups dried hibiscus flowers
- 2 quarts water
- 1/2 cup sugar per pitcher of jamaica
- HIBISCUS CONCENTRATE
- Put 2 quarts of water in a pot
- Add 2 cups of dried hibiscus flowers to the water
- Bring to a boil
- As soon as the water boils reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes
- After 10 minutes turn off the heat and allow the hibiscus concentrate to cool
- PITCHER OF JAMAICA
- Put 1/3 of the concentrate in a half-gallon pitcher and add the sugar
- Fill the pitcher with cool water and stir vigorously to dissolve the water
- Serve chilled or over ice
- The concentrate will keep for 5 days in the refrigerator.
- Store in a sealed container so that it doesn’t take on flavors for other foods in the fridge.