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 a refreshing drink 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. You can find hibiscus flowers at your local grocery store or order online. Mexgrocer is a good option.
Sweet or Tart?
Mexicans tend to prefer their agua de jamaica very sweet. If you add the full ½ 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 ¼ cup of sugar per picture.
How to Make Agua de Jamaica Drink (Iced Hibiscus Tea)
It’s really quite simple to prepare. Follow these steps.
Dried Hibiscus Flowers Called “Flor de Jamaica.”
- 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 ½ 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 ⅓ of the concentrate into a ½ 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
- ½ 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 ⅓ 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
- Add I cinnamon stick to the water when steeping.
- Instead of sugar, you can sweeten your drink with piloncillo or agave syrup.
- 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.
How long can you store dried Jamaica flowers
A very long time! Months! Years?
Think of dry tea bags?
Great Recipe! But you MUST try it using Piloncillo (basically brown sugar in a cone shape). This is the most authentic and delicious. Cheers!
How much piloncillo do you use for 1/2 gallon? ( I don’t want it “candy sweet” but I don’t want it bitter either.) Do you prefer the lighter, or the darker piloncillo?
Can you freeze concentrate?
Douglas Cullen says
I’ve never tried freezing it, but I think it would freeze well. If you freeze it let us know how it turns out. Cheers!
It’s been a long time I actually pulled out a piece of paper to take notes on a blog post. Thanks for this. You’ve earned yourself a new reader!
Douglas Cullen says
Great to have you!
You can add a stick of cinumum and skip the sugar. 😊
Also you can add apple cut in cubes when is cold.
I heard even adding peanuts to the drink…
Anna Knox says
Hi I live in San Francisco..where do I buy fresh hibiscus flowers to make the hibiscus water?…or find a concentrate or dried flowers etc….
Some of the “dollar stores sell it” or try a “mexican style grocery store” like a “Food City” if you have them around.
what are the measurements on the piloncillo when using in the recipe? Steps on how to make it with the piloncillo
My flowers never sink to the bottom and I’m following the recipe.
gregorio yoshida says
for diabetics, substitute the piloncillo with an all-natural 0-calorie sweetener like stevia. it’s just as good with the pure Jamaica flavor without the caramel undertones of sugar. some of my friends grate a tsp of lime rind into the mixture to give it a lighter, refreshing, citrusy tang, perfect to quench the thirst during the arid months of summer!
Thank you for posting this! My grandma and I used to make this together all the time but sadly she passed away 2 years ago.
Douglas Cullen says
Glad you liked the recipe!
Hi, I just came across this recipe today. I had jamaica yesterday at a taco stand in Mexico and it was definitely something I needed to replicate. Just for fridge saving purposes since we’re in an RV, I made 1/2 a batch. How much would you add of the concentrate to a cup if mixing just a glass at a time?