Sorrel, Bissap, Jamaica: Hibiscus Tea Around the World

Deep fuchsia and pleasantly tart, hibiscus tea is made by steeping dried hibiscus flowers in water, often with a little sugar added. You might know it as "jamaica" at your favorite taco joint, but did you know versions of hibiscus tea are also enjoyed in Jamaica, West Africa and the Middle East?

In Jamaica, ginger adds a little spice to the chilled drink, which there is called sorrel. Ginger is also added along with mint in the West African version, and Senegal has dubbed its version, bissap, the country's national drink. Egyptians use it to celebrate, toasting a new marriage with karkady, their take on hibiscus tea.

Dried hibiscus flowers can be found out health food stores or Latin American markets, where they may be labeled "flor de Jamaica." Making the tea is just a matter of steeping the flowers in hot water and adding sugar to taste, mixing in extras like ginger, lime juice or even a little rum along the way. We like to keep it a bit tart and serve it chilled over ice — it's just as refreshing as lemonade and even lovelier to look at.

Recipes to try:
Jamaica Flower Iced Tea Recipe from 101 Cookbooks
Jamaican Sorrel Rum Punch from Gourmet
Jus de Bissap from The Congo Cookbook

Do you drink hibiscus tea?

Related: What Can I Do With Hibiscus Powder?

(Image: Flickr member Hyougushi licensed under Creative Commons; 101 Cookbooks)

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Anjali is a former private chef who is currently pursuing a graduate degree in nutrition, with plans to become a registered dietitian. She lives in Los Angeles. You can read more of her health-focused writing at Eat Your Greens.