Agua de Jamaica (Hibiscus Tea)

DrinkMexican and Tex MexTea

Agua de Jamaica (aka Hibiscus tea) is an infusion of dried hibiscus flowers. Popular at Mexican taquerias, this agua fresca is loaded with Vitamin C and can even lower blood pressure!

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Hibiscus Tea

Walk into practically any taqueria in California and you’ll likely find super-sized containers of agua frescas, right next to the soda dispenser.

The usual flavors are horchata (a sweet rice drink), tamarindo (from tamarind, and agua de jamaica (pronounced hah-MY-kah), or hibiscus tea, an infusion of hibiscus flowers,

I almost always go for the ruby red jamaica, I think just because I love the color. The taste of this hibiscus tea is slightly tart and refreshing.

If you’ve ever had red zinger tea from Celestial Seasonings, it’s a little like that. Or a little like cranberry juice. With a squeeze or two of lime juice, it becomes almost punch-like.

Agua de Jamaica, Hibiscus Tea

Finding Hibiscus Flowers for Hibiscus Tea

Hibiscus tea (an infusion actually) is popular all around the world. The hibiscus flower grows in tropical and semi-tropical climates. I remember hibiscus trees all over Los Angeles where I grew up.

You can find the dried hibiscus flowers at almost any Mexican market (look for “flor de Jamaica”), or you can order them online.

By the way, the tea is a natural diuretic and has lots of Vitamin C. There’s also at least one government study that shows that hibiscus tea lowers blood pressure.

Updated July 1, 2018 : Updated with new photos, first published 2011

Agua de Jamaica (Hibiscus Tea) Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 2 quarts

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts water
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you would like it to be)
  • 1 cup dried hibiscus flowers
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick (optional)
  • A few thin slices ginger (optional)
  • Allspice berries (optional)
  • Lime juice (optional)
  • Orange or lime slices for garnish

Method

1 Boil water with sugar and spices: Put 4 cups of the water and the sugar in a medium saucepan. Add cinnamon, ginger slices, and/or a few allspice berries if you would like. Heat until boiling and the sugar has dissolved.

2 Steep with dried hibiscus flowers: Remove from heat. Stir in the dried hibiscus flowers. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes.

3 Strain:  Strain into a pitcher and discard the used hibiscus flowers, ginger, cinnamon, and/or allspice berries.

(At this point you can store ahead the concentrate, chilled, until ready to make the drink.)

4 Add water: Add remaining 4 cups of water (or if you want to chill the drink quickly, ice and water) to the concentrate, and chill.

Alternatively you can add ice and chilled soda water for a bubbly version.

Add a little lime juice for a more punch-like flavor.

Serve over ice with a slice of orange or lime.

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Links:

Jamaica Flower Iced Tea from Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks

Agua de Jamaica, Hibiscus Tea

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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34 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Zenzi

    Auga de Jamaica literal translation is water of Jamaica it amazes me how people don’t realize it and always attribute it to taquerias, but we call this traditional drink sorrel

  • Linda chong

    Good for body

  • Michael

    It is the calyx (sepals) of the flower.
    I made an infusion, from a Caribbean recipe, using alternate layers of Jamaica and sugar, in a large water bottle then cover with cheap rum. Every two or three days I would turn it over. After about 3 weeks I strained and bottled it. A refreshing drink on ice! I gave a bottle to a friend who returned it to me 2 years later, and it tasted like sherry.
    Fresh Jamaica chopped up can pass as cranberries.

  • Elizabeth Garcia

    Great recipe it’s got the perfect ratio of water and flower. I got to say it’s simple and delicious very refreshing. My kids love it when we make them into popsicles.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Khaled

    You should try the sudani’s Hibiscus tea

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Agua de Jamaica, Hibiscus TeaAgua de Jamaica (Hibiscus Tea)