Agua de Jamaica

Also known as hibiscus tea, agua de Jamaica (unlike the country, it is pronounced ha-MIKE-uh in Spanish) is an infusion of the calyces of the hibiscus sabdariffa flower, native to Latin America and popular throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and the Caribbean.

Agua de Jamaica is high in vitamin C and is considered to have anti-hypertensive properties.  It is thought that the antioxidant flavonoids, polyphenolics and anthocyanins contained in the flower play a role in preventing the oxidation of low density lipoproteins, the so-called “bad cholesterol”.

Oh, and it tastes great!

Traditionally made using only the hibiscus calyces, water and sugar, I’m using hibiscus calyces (flor de Jamaica in Mexico), water, ginger root and agave nectar.

Rinse the calyces in cold water to remove any debris, then place in a pot of boiling water (approximately 1 cup calyces to 2 cups water) with a length of bruised ginger. Cover, remove from heat and steep for at least 10 minutes.

Add a tray of ice cubes and allow to cool. Strain through fine-mesh strainer, gently pressing the leaves to release their juice.  Sweeten to taste.