I was recently gifted with a very large bag of dried hibiscus blossoms. When I say gifted, I mean lifted from the ‘grab table’ on set. Dark and shriveled, it’s hard to believe they’re the same flowers in a Hawaiian lei.
I love hibiscus ‘Jamaica’, the magenta punch served in Latin American restaurants. At Tortaria near Union Square, they have a huge jug of it alongside horchata. And I have a special place in my heart for the hibiscus doughnut at Dough in Brooklyn. It’s one of those things that tastes as good as it looks, perhaps better.
I discovered (re: Googled) that brewed hibiscus is actually a global drink, with variations in Egypt, the Middle East, West Africa, the Philippines, Thailand, the Caribbean and even Italy. Who knew? My version is cold-brewed with black tea and mulling spices leftover from the holidays. Don’t worry, it won’t taste like liquid potpourri, the spices are actually very subtle. Be warned: hibiscus is quite tart, like cranberry juice, so sweeten accordingly. It also makes a great base for a rum cocktail. Just saying.
Spiced and Iced Hibiscus Tea
- 2 quarts water
- 5 tea bags (any type, I used black tea)
- 1/2 cup dried hibiscus blossoms
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise pods
- 1 orange, sliced, divided
- Simple syrup, to taste*
- Combine the water, tea bags, hibiscus blossoms, cinnamon stick, star anise and half of the orange slices in a large pitcher or jar. Cover and chill overnight.
- Strain and serve over ice, garnished with remaining orange slices. Sweeten with simple syrup, if desired.
*Simple syrup: combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Allow to cool before mixing into tea or coffee.