Agua de Jamaica (Hibiscus Tea)

DrinkMexican and Tex MexTea

Agua de Jamaica (aka Hibiscus tea) is an infusion of dried hibiscus flowers. Popular at Mexican taquerias, this agua fresca is loaded with Vitamin C and can even lower blood pressure!

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Hibiscus Tea

Walk into practically any taqueria in California and you’ll likely find super-sized containers of agua frescas, right next to the soda dispenser.

The usual flavors are horchata (a sweet rice drink), tamarindo (from tamarind, and agua de jamaica (pronounced hah-MY-kah), or hibiscus tea, an infusion of hibiscus flowers,

I almost always go for the ruby red jamaica, I think just because I love the color. The taste of this hibiscus tea is slightly tart and refreshing.

If you’ve ever had red zinger tea from Celestial Seasonings, it’s a little like that. Or a little like cranberry juice. With a squeeze or two of lime juice, it becomes almost punch-like.

Agua de Jamaica Hibiscus Tea in glass

Finding Hibiscus Flowers for Hibiscus Tea

Hibiscus tea (an infusion actually) is popular all around the world. The hibiscus flower grows in tropical and semi-tropical climates. I remember hibiscus trees all over Los Angeles where I grew up.

You can find the dried hibiscus flowers at almost any Mexican market (look for “flor de Jamaica”), or you can order them online.

By the way, the tea is a natural diuretic and has lots of Vitamin C. There’s also at least one government study that shows that hibiscus tea lowers blood pressure.

Agua de Jamaica (Hibiscus Tea) Recipe

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  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 2 quarts

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts water
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you would like it to be)
  • 1 cup dried hibiscus flowers
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick (optional)
  • A few thin slices ginger (optional)
  • Allspice berries (optional)
  • Lime juice (optional)
  • Orange or lime slices for garnish

Method

1 Put 4 cups of the water and the sugar in a medium saucepan. Add cinnamon, ginger slices, and/or a few allspice berries if you would like. Heat until boiling and the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in the dried hibiscus flowers.

2 Cover and let sit for 20 minutes. Strain into a pitcher and discard the used hibiscus flowers, ginger, cinnamon, and/or allspice berries.

(At this point you can store ahead the concentrate, chilled, until ready to make the drink.)

3 Add remaining 4 cups of water (or if you want to chill the drink quickly, ice and water) to the concentrate, and chill. Alternatively you can add ice and chilled soda water for a bubbly version. Add a little lime juice for a more punch-like flavor.

Serve over ice with a slice of orange or lime.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

Links:

Jamaica Flower Iced Tea from Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks

28 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Patrick

    This was great! I tried both the normal one (without any of the optionals) and the loaded one. I made about 4 times the serving. I used raw cane sugar from a Mexican brand. If you’re doing the loaded one, I’d go easy on the ginger.

    Personally preferred the simple version, as it tasted closer to what i get at the taqueria. Can’t go wrong with the simple water/sugar/hibiscus combo. My roommate dilutes his drink with extra water cuz he doesn’t like it as sweet as me.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • L Mucha

    I use jaggery instead of sugar.

  • Carl Stoeckel

    Here in Southern Arizona, I make a sun tea version, dispensing with the simmering. The midsummer sun does that for me. Once strained, the infusion is hot enough to add the sweetener of choice. I generally add the citrus just before serving a chilled glass. A bit of carbonation, I agree, adds to the refreshing quality of this, one of my favorite authentic SW drinks. The blossoms become handy mulch, and the desert tortoise who resides here has been known to chew them down, too. Thanks for your post.

  • Marcus Phelps-Munson

    I serve this to my garden club members, it’s always a hit and extra special because it’s made of flowers.

  • MJennaC

    I also enjoy adding a bit of lavender to my recipe. A great drink after a long day! I like to use local raw honey in mine instead of sugar, when I have it.

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