Discovering the Delight of Hibiscus Tea Discovering the Delight of Hibiscus Tea

Discovering the Delight of Hibiscus Tea

By Alan Hughes

Discovering the Delight of Hibiscus Tea Discovering the Delight of Hibiscus Tea

When I first embarked on my journey in the tea industry, I had no idea that Hibiscus would become such a beloved staple in our collection.

The large amount of interest we receive about hibiscus tea, from various countries around the world, has been a delightful surprise, and it has made me wonder how do other cultures use this tea and what do they call it at home... Join me as I do a quick dive into the fascinating world of Hibiscus and uncover its traditional past and global allure!

What is Hibiscus?

I bet you have that classic Hawaiian shirt with the Hula girls and a Hibiscus blossoming on it in your mind. While that is a Hibiscus flower, the word Hibiscus refers to a family of 250 species of shrubs, trees, and herbaceous plants in the mallow family (Malvaceae). There certainly are quite a few, but we will focus on the plants generally characterized by large, showy, bell-shaped flowers. While some species are used for food or medicinal purposes, others are purely ornamental.

Traditional Uses of Hibiscus Blossoms

Hibiscus blossoms have been used traditionally in various cultures around the world for a multitude of purposes, ranging from culinary and medicinal to ornamental. Here are some of the traditional uses:

1. Culinary Uses

Beverages: In many cultures, Hibiscus is used to make refreshing drinks. In Egypt and Sudan, it is used to brew karkadé, a popular hibiscus tea. In the Caribbean and Latin America, it is used to make a festive drink called sorrel or flor de Jamaica.

Jams and Sauces: Hibiscus flowers are often used to make jams, jellies, and sauces due to their tart flavour and vibrant colour.

2. Medicinal Uses

Digestive Aid: Traditionally, hibiscus tea has been used to aid digestion and relieve stomach discomfort.

Blood Pressure Regulation: Hibiscus has been traditionally used to help lower blood pressure, particularly in African and Middle Eastern cultures.

Cooling Agent: In Ayurvedic medicine, the Hibiscus is used to reduce body heat and fevers.

3. Ornamental Uses

Decorative Plants: Hibiscus plants are widely grown for their beautiful and large flowers, which are used for ornamental purposes in gardens and landscapes.

Cultural Symbols: In many cultures, hibiscus flowers are used in traditional ceremonies and rituals. For example, in Hawaii, the Hibiscus is the state flower and is often worn as a symbol of respect and hospitality.

4. Cosmetic Uses

Hair Care: In India and other parts of Asia, Hibiscus is used in hair care products. The flowers and leaves are believed to promote hair growth and prevent dandruff.

Skin Care: Hibiscus extracts are used in traditional skincare remedies to cleanse and moisturize the skin, leveraging their natural exfoliating and anti-aging properties.

5. Dye Production

Natural Dye: The vibrant red pigment of hibiscus flowers has been used to produce natural dyes for textiles and food colouring.

The Delightful Hibiscus Drink

Hibiscus tea, made from the calyx of the hibiscus flower, produces a tart, ruby-coloured infusion similar to Ribena but without sugar. This refreshing beverage is enjoyed in many countries, each with its unique name for it:

  • Australia: Rosella or Rosella fruit
  • Indonesia: Rosela
  • Malaysia: Asam Paya or Asam Susur
  • China: Luo Shen Hua
  • Thailand: Krajeab
  • Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan: Karkade
  • Namibia: Omutete
  • West Africa (Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Benin, Niger, Congo, France): Bissap
  • The Gambia: Wonjo
  • Nigeria: Zobo (Yorubas call the white variety Isapa)
  • Iran: Chaye-Torosh
  • India (Assam, Telugu, Kerala): Tengamora, Gongura, Mathipuli
  • Myanmar: Chin baung
  • Caribbean, Latin America: Sorrel
  • Mexico: Flor de Jamaica
  • Panama: Saril
  • Zambia: Lumanda in ciBemba, Katolo in kiKaonde, Wusi in chiLunda

The Egyptian Connection

Egypt, a land of ancient wonders, is also known for its notoriously hectic traffic. The constant blaring of horns, the roar of engines, and the mix of bells and voices create an unparalleled level of chaos. Amid this bustling environment, Egyptians find solace in sipping karkadé, a soothing herbal tea brewed from Hibiscus.

Hibiscus has been cultivated in Egypt for many years as a minor cash crop. It flourishes in the nutrient-rich, silty soil along the Nile River. Once harvested, the flowers are dried and transported to the markets in Cairo, where they are packaged for both domestic consumption and export.

We are proud to offer this exceptional Hibiscus from the farmlands of Egypt. It can be enjoyed as a stand-alone tea drawing a beautiful deep red infusion or as a blending component, as found in our No.930 Strawberry Plum. When combined with other herbs or teas, Hibiscus adds a remarkable layer of tart astringency and floral character.

How to Enjoy Hibiscus Tea

Brewing hibiscus tea is simple. Drop a few hibiscus calyces into a teapot and add boiling water. Let it steep for a few minutes, then serve it hot or iced, sweetened or unsweetened, to your preference. Iced hibiscus infusion is incredibly refreshing in the heat of summer. Grab yourself a box today No.900 Hibiscus Blossom

Hibiscus tea is not only delicious but also offers various health benefits. Its global appeal and versatility make it a wonderful addition to any tea collection. Give it a try, and experience the delightful taste and benefits of hibiscus tea. And remember, the next time you're feeling stressed, brew yourself a pot of hibiscus tea and take the edge off, just as the Egyptians do.

Sources: New World Encyclopedia - Hibiscus / Wikipedia - Roselle (Plant)


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