How To Make Hibiscus Tea

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How to make hibiscus tea, either as a warm, soothing herbal tea OR a sweet, tangy and refreshing cold brew or iced tea (aka Agua de Jamaica). Multiple flavor variations are included below!

Pouring hibiscus tea in a glass cup

Whether you’re looking for something warm and soothing on chilly days or chilled and refreshing during the summer months, hibiscus tea is a must-try! It’s sweet, tangy (like cranberry juice), beautiful (just look at the color!), and packed with health benefits – making it a great alternative to caffeinated drinks or soda.

Best of all, you can enjoy these hibiscus tea recipes year-round, made with either hibiscus flowers straight from your garden or dried flowers. With just 2 base ingredients, there are also plenty of ways to add even more flavor to the tea.

Hibiscus tea in two mason jars topped with lemon slices

What is Hibiscus Tea?

First, what is hibiscus? Hibiscus (referred to as the Jamaica flower in Mexico) is a flowering plant native to warm and tropical climates like India, Africa, and Asia. While there are many species, the pink and red-colored flowers are most commonly used for culinary uses thanks to the gorgeous color they impart.

Hibiscus tea is an infusion made with hibiscus flowers (specifically the crimson and magenta calyces of the roselle plant) and water, consumed either warm or as an iced tea. This herbal tea has been consumed for thousands of years and is fruity and tart with a gorgeous red/purple color.

Hibiscus drink recipes are popular worldwide, particularly in South America, but also in Africa, Asia, and Europe. For that reason, it also has several names, including roselle tea, karkady/karkade/karkadeh or bissap in Northern Africa, carcadè in Italy, Sorrel in the Caribbean, and agua de Jamaica (Jamaica tea; pronounced ha-MY-cah) in Latin America.

Agua de Jamaica drink refers to an iced refreshing version of the tea that’s very popular in Mexico (I share below how to make it). Not only does this caffeine-free herbal tea taste great, but it also boasts several health benefits. Some even consider it a type of superfood.

What Are Hibiscus Tea Benefits?

As well as tasting incredible, this simple herbal tea also contains several health benefits, including:

  • Antioxidant-rich – helping to fight harmful free radicals and reduce the risk of several chronic diseases.
  • Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Immune booster – thanks to a high vitamin C content and several minerals.
  • Detoxifying.
  • Can reduce menstrual pain.
  • Beneficial to skin health.

You can read more about the health benefits on Healthline.

Hibiscus tea in a cup and a hand holding half a lemon

Are there any hibiscus tea side effects?

I’ve read that drinking hibiscus tea can affect estrogen levels, which means it’s worth avoiding when trying to conceive or are pregnant (or are taking hormonal medicines).

Overconsumption of hibiscus tea could also affect your liver. If you have any worries, refer to a medical professional before introducing this to your diet.

Looking for more tea recipes? Check out this pineapple skin tea (anti-inflammatory tea), Masala chai, fresh mint tea, or ginger tea!

The Ingredients

  • Hibiscus: you’ll need fresh or dried hibiscus flowers for this hibiscus drink. Roselle, Rosa Sinensis, and Hibiscus Sadbariffa are my recommended varieties.

Use food-grade hibiscus or those from a plant in your garden. Avoid flower shop hibiscus flowers, as they’re usually covered in chemicals.

  • Water: to make up the base of the hibiscus drink.
  • Sweetener (optional): cut the tart flavor of the drink with your option of sweetener. I.e., honey, sugar, maple, agave syrup, jaggery, a simple syrup, or sugar-free sweetener like erythritol/stevia (the latter is good for those with diabetes, too).
Ingredients for hibiscus tea

Optional Add-ins and Variations

This hibiscus drink is surprisingly versatile, whether you plan to enjoy it as a warm or iced tea. Here are just a few of my top additions.

  • Herbs: lemongrass, mint leaves, basil, rosemary, and lemon balm pair well with the agua de Jamaica.
  • Citrus: there are several ways to introduce citrus into the hibiscus tea recipe. You can add a splash of lemon juice or lime juice before serving or infuse the drink with more flavor with the zest/peel of lemon, lime, or orange.
  • Whole spices: adding a cinnamon stick or two is one of my favorite additions to this roselle tea. However, you could also experiment with allspice berries, cardamom, cloves, fennel seeds, or saffron.
  • Ginger: add a few slices of fresh ginger to infuse it with extra zing.
  • Hibiscus pineapple tea: follow this method for pineapple skin tea, adding the flowers in the last 10 minutes of steeping time.
  • Florals: adding a small amount of orange blossom water, rosewater, lavender, or rosehip will increase the floral notes.
  • Fruit: a very easy way to increase the flavor is with the addition of fruit, either in muddled form or as juice. Options include a mango hibiscus tea recipe, raspberry hibiscus tea, strawberry, peach, cranberry, blueberries, quince, lychee, tamarind, pineapple, watermelon, etc.

You can enjoy the hibiscus drink as is, dilute it with water/soda water, or even use it with a fruit juice blend or within cocktails (i.e., with rum, vodka, or tequila)!

Orange, lemon, strawberries, honey, ginger and cinnamon on a flat surface
Optional Add-ins

How to Make Hibiscus Tea?

Warm Hibiscus Tea

  1. Boil the water either on the stovetop or in a kettle.
  2. Once boiled, place the hibiscus petals in a teapot or pitcher and cover with the water. Allow it to steep for 4-5 minutes, then strain, sweeten, and enjoy.
Steps for making hibiscus tea

It’s best to use a strainer to place the petals, so removing them after the steeping process is easier.

You can also use this method to prepare iced hibiscus tea, too.

Cold Brew Hibiscus Tea

The cold brew hibiscus tea recipe minimizes the risk of bitterness while still extracting full flavor from the flowers. This version steeps the tea in your fridge for up to 2 days (it can take a minimum of 4 hours, but steep to your desired color and flavor). Prepare the tea in a pitcher or in a large bottle that fits in your fridge.

  1. Add the hibiscus petals to a pitcher filled with the water (room temperature or cool is fine) and stir.
  2. Place it in the fridge overnight. Then strain to remove the petals and serve.

If you want to sweeten the cold brew, it’s best to use a liquid sweetener like simple syrup or maple as they are easier to dilute in the cold tea.

Check How to Cold Brew Tea for more tips!

Cold brew hibiscus tea in a pitcher

I’m not sure if there’s any way to use the strained flowers other than discarding them. Let me know in the comments if you have any ideas.

Bonus: Agua de Jamaica (Iced Hibiscus Tea)

This version makes a hibiscus tea concentrate and you will need 1 cup of dried hibiscus flowers per quart of water (about 1 liter/4 US cups).

  1. Add the hibiscus petals and cold water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and allow the petals to steep for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  3. Strain the mixture through a strainer/colander and pour the beverage into a large pitcher.
  1. Allow it to cool in the refrigerator. Then, if you want it sweetened, add in your sweetener of choice while it’s still warm, too (add to taste).

When you prepare a glass of agua de Jamaica, dilute the hibiscus tea concentrate with additional water or soda water and ice to taste. I use a 1:1 ratio of concentrate and added liquid, but you can adjust the ratio to taste.

Finish it with a splash of lemon or lime juice. You could also serve the drink with diced fruit (like pineapple, melon, strawberries, apple, etc.) and garnished with a citrus slice.

Pouring iced hibiscus tea in a mason jar

Storage Instructions

You can store any leftover hibiscus tea in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. This makes it a great make-ahead drink, too. It can be enjoyed straight from the fridge or reheated first.

You could also pour leftovers in an ice cube tray or even turn them into hibiscus tea popsicles.

A mason jar with red tea and a lemon slice

FAQs

Can you use the whole hibiscus flowers?

No, it’s just the petals that are required for hibiscus tea. The stamen, stem, and all other parts aren’t needed. Usually, I buy pre-dried hibiscus petals, though, so there’s no need to filter them.

Can I use fresh hibiscus petals?

Absolutely. You’ll need about 4x the amount (i.e., 1 cup fresh petals instead of ¼ cup dried petals). I also like to increase the steeping time to 15 minutes.
Otherwise, the method is the same. Clean the flowers well, removing the leaves, stem, and seed pods – using just the petals.

Where can I buy hibiscus flowers?

You can order packages of the dried flowers online, in health food stores, and sometimes in Hispanic (labeled “Flor de Jamaica”) and Middle Eastern stores and markets. I’ve also seen them in specialty tea stores before.

How much should I drink per day?

I recommend consuming 1-2 cups of the hibiscus drink (either the tea or hibiscus iced tea) per day to make the most of the health benefits without risking the side effects of overconsumption.

How to dry the flowers at home?

Remove the stem and stamen from each flower, keeping the calyx intact. Then place them on a large drying rack covered in muslin and leave in a well-ventilated area (or use a dehydrator) to dry naturally over several days (until crisp). Once dried, store them in an airtight jar.

Top view of a kettle and cup with hibiscus tea

Recipe Tips and Notes

  • Adjust the sweetness: according to personal taste. Some prefer it very tart and some as a sweet tea.
  • Adjust the strength: feel free to play around with the ratio of hibiscus to water and how long you leave the tea to steep. However, be careful not to steep the petals too long, or the tea becomes bitter. It’s better to increase the ratio of flowers instead.
  • Hibiscus stains: so be careful with what you choose to wear and the surfaces used when preparing hibiscus drinks. If you have issues with staining, you may be able to help using these methods.

More Simple Drink Recipes

If you try this hibiscus tea recipe, I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions below. Also, I’d appreciate a recipe card rating below, and tag me in your recipe recreations on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

How to Make Hibiscus Tea (Agua De Jamaica + Flavor Variations)

5 from 17 votes
By: Samira
How to make hibiscus tea, either as a warm, soothing herbal tea OR a sweet, tangy and refreshing cold brew or iced tea (aka Agua de Jamaica). Just 2 ingredients and multiple flavor variations!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 
 

  • 0.31 oz dried hibiscus flowers about 1/4 cup; or 1 cup fresh (just the petals)
  • 4 cups water
  • sweetener optional; added to taste: honey, agave, simple syrup, sugar, or a sugar-free sweetener like erythritol/stevia

Check the Recipe Notes below for optional add-ins!

Instructions 

Warm Hibiscus Tea

  • Boil the water either on the stovetop or in a kettle.
  • Once boiled, place the hibiscus petals in a teapot or pitcher and cover with the water. Allow it to steep for 4-5 minutes, then strain, sweeten, and enjoy.
    It’s best to use a strainer to place the petals, so removing them after the steeping process is easier.

Cold Brew Hibiscus Tea

  • Add the hibiscus petals to a pitcher filled with the water (room temperature or cool is fine) and stir.
  • Place it in the fridge to steep overnight or for up to 2 days. It can take a minimum of 4 hours but steep to your desired color and flavor. Then strain to remove the petals and serve.
    If you want to sweeten the cold brew, it's best to use a liquid sweetener like simple syrup or maple as they are easier to dilute in the cold tea.

Storage Instructions

  • You can store any leftover hibiscus tea in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. This makes it a great make-ahead drink, too. It can be enjoyed straight from the fridge or reheated first.
    You could also pour leftovers in an ice cube tray or even turn them into hibiscus tea popsicles.

Video

Notes

  • Adjust the sweetness: according to personal taste. Some prefer it very tart and some as a sweet tea.
  • Adjust the strength: feel free to play around with the ratio of hibiscus to water and how long you leave the tea to steep. However, be careful not to steep the petals too long, or the tea becomes bitter. It’s better to increase the ratio of flowers instead.
  • Hibiscus stains: so be careful with what you choose to wear and the surfaces used when preparing hibiscus drinks. If you have issues with staining, you may be able to help using these methods.
Optional add-ins and variations:
  • Herbs: lemongrass, mint leaves, basil, rosemary, and lemon balm pair well with the tea.
  • Citrus: you can add a splash of lemon juice or lime juice before serving or infuse the drink with more flavor with the zest/peel of lemon, lime, or orange.
  • Whole spices: adding a cinnamon stick or two is one of my favorite additions. You could also experiment with allspice berries, cardamom, cloves, fennel seeds, or saffron.
  • Ginger: add a few slices of fresh ginger to infuse with extra zing.
  • Hibiscus pineapple tea: follow this method for pineapple skin tea, adding the flowers in the last 10 minutes of steeping time.
  • Florals: adding a small amount of orange blossom water, rosewater, lavender, or rosehip will increase the floral notes.
  • Fruit: increase the flavor with the addition of fruit, either in muddled form or as juice. Options include a mango hibiscus tea recipe, raspberry hibiscus tea, strawberry, peach, cranberry, blueberries, quince, lychee, tamarind, pineapple, watermelon, etc.
You can enjoy the hibiscus drink as is, dilute it with water/soda water, or even use it with a fruit juice blend or within cocktails (i.e., with rum, vodka, or tequila)!
Check the blog post for how to prepare Aqua de Jamaica tea concentrate, as well as answers to top FAQs and more top tips!
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Global
Freezer friendly: 3-4 Months
Shelf life: 5 Days

Nutrition

Calories: 1kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 12mg, Potassium: 7mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 44IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 9mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

5 from 17 votes (16 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




4 Comments

  1. Kathryn Hayes says:

    5 stars
    Great refreshing drink. Very good recipe with suggestions on variations. I’m

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Thank you for your comment, Kathryn.

  2. Okindegi Galiziarra says:

    Thanks for sharing the recipe. I just wanted to clarify that it is not the petals of the flower what we used for consumption, but the calyx. It is just a different part of the flower. The leaves of the plant are also edible, not for the tea, but in salads or sauteed.

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Thank you so much for your comment! 🙂