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Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Sweet Memories - Hibiscus Tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa)

" Have you ever wondered what the Pharaohs of the ancient Nile Valley drank to refresh themselves in the desert heat?

Hibiscus tea.

The Nile River Valley is the cradle of one of the world's oldest civilizations. The hibiscus flower and its usage for making hibiscus tea have long been an important part of the culture, and of the economies of the Nile River Valley. Nubian villages along the Nile River still share many, many of the customs and practices of their ancestors, whose civilization dates back more than 5,000 years.

And throughout history until the present, hibiscus tea has been a preferred beverage in many cultures, in China, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Europe. In fact, all over the world people drink hibiscus tea for health (hibiscus tea lowers blood pressure and fights cancer), for cooling (hibiscus tea is a refrigerant and helps cool the body), for a relaxing refreshment (hibiscus tea contains no caffeine), for ceremonies (every wedding and celebration in Sudan and Egypt is "toasted" with glasses of hibiscus tea), and for enjoyment (hibiscus tea is a beautiful rich crimson color and is tart and delicious)." .... from this source




This is a home comfort that takes me waaaaaaay back into my early years Yum lol.

Karkade is the popular name for it - I remember how this drink would always be part of our family gatherings and for special occasions. A very distinct taste that never fails to leave me feeling refreshed and uplifted!

Along with it's fantastic health benefits , it is such an easy-to-make drink... at any time of the year. Over the years, I have enjoyd relaxing with green tea and other herbal teas (especially after having a tough time sourcing out a place to buy quality karkade in the UK) - This drink is by far my favourite treat that I look forward to.

Personally, I enjoy brewing this on its own with a touch of lemon juice and/or honey, depending if I want a sweeter or bitter-sharper taste - both hot and cold. You might like to try the following recipes or experiement with your herbs!



Iced Hibiscus Tea Spritzer
Serves 4
1 vanilla bean (you can use 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract as a substitute)
2/3 cup honey
2 2/3 cups water
1 cup dried hibiscus flowers, lightly rinsed
Ice cubes
Soda water or plain water

Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrap the seeds into a small saucepan. Toss in the bean, and add the honey and water. Stir. Bring to a boil, and then remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the hibiscus flowers and cover. Let the tea steep for 10 minutes.

Strain the liquid using a fine sieve, and then place the liquid in the refrigerator to chill. When you are ready to drink your beverage, fill four glasses with ice cubes and divide the liquid between them – each glass should be about 1/3-1/2 full. Top up with soda water and serve.

Hot Hibiscus Tea
Serves 2 (using mugs) or 3 (using teacups)

2 cups of water
½ cup dried hibiscus flowers, lightly rinsed
¼ cup honey
¼ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Lemon slices, for garnish


Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan, take it off of the heat and add the hibiscus flowers. Cover the pan, and steep the tea for 10 minutes. Strain the tea using a fine sieve into a small bowl. Add the honey, ginger and lemon juice and stir until the dissolved.

Serve hot, with lemon slices.

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