This delightfully fragrant and deliciously exotic ruby-red tea is a soothing summertime refreshment that packs a pretty little punch of health benefits too. Here are 3 simple ways to make iced hibiscus tea. You can brew it hot, make it as a cold infusion, or let the warmth of the sun work its magic on an old-fashioned sun tea. Whichever recipe for hibiscus tea you choose, once it’s ready, pour it over ice and then sip in the most refreshing and immune-boosting remedy for the summertime swelter.
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All About Hibiscus Tea
Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is thought to have originated in Africa. With the transport of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic, hibiscus made its way across the globe.
Now found in tropical regions all over the globe, such as Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Mexico, hibiscus tea has become an important part of many cultures.
It may be made in different ways, with spices like cinnamon and clove added, sweetened with honey or brown sugar. It is even called by many different names. But wherever it has gone and no matter the recipe, hibiscus tea carries a deep sense of culture and history.
The Health Benefits of Hibiscus
Hibiscus is probably best known for two things. One, it’s incredibly high in vitamin C as you can tell from its tantalizingly tart taste. And two, it’s an amazing medicine for the heart and entire cardiovascular system.
Its high polyphenol and antioxidant content makes hibiscus a heart-healthy food that supports the overall healthy function of the cardiovascular system.
For example, this pretty little flower has been used to help lower high blood pressure, support liver and kidney health, manage high cholesterol, and even help with weight management.
And did you know that hibiscus has often been called the Botox plant? I didn’t either until doing research on the benefits of hibiscus for your skin.
Studies have found that hibiscus can help prevent premature signs of aging due to its ability to decrease collagen degradation, increase collage production, support skin elasticity, and so much more.
That’s a lot of herbal medicine in one little plant!
Here are some of the most well-known and studied health benefits of hibiscus flower:
- Heart Tonic
- Demulcent (helps to soothe irritated and inflamed internal tissues such as mucous membranes)
How to Make Iced Hibiscus Tea – 3 Ways
This recipe for hibiscus tea is no different than any other recipe for herbal tea with one exception. Much of the nutritive and medicinal qualities of hibiscus, its gold star in the herbal medicine category, come from its incredibly high vitamin C and antioxidant content.
And here’s the thing: vitamin C happens to be very heat-sensitive. That means if you brewed a cup of hibiscus tea by steeping it in hot water, you’d lose a lot of the vitamin C.
That’s not to say that hibiscus tea steeped in hot water is without any health benefits. It retains many of its health benefits even when steeped in hot water.
Here’s a quick rundown of how to make these 3 recipes for hibiscus tea, including steeped in hot water, as a cold infusion, and lastly as a sun tea. For the full, detailed recipes, skip ahead to the end of this post.
The equipment needed to make this recipe for hibiscus tea will vary slightly depending on which method you choose. The main difference is whether you’re brewing with hot water or cold/room temperature water.
- FOR HOT HIBISCUS TEA: Small saucepan or tea kettle (If you make tea often, this electric tea kettle allows you to control water temperature. Different teas brew better at different temperatures. It’s the best!)
- FOR COLD BREW OR SUN TEA: Glass Jar with Tight-Fitting Lid (I enjoy making quart-sized batched of herbal tea, but you can start with a pint-sized batch to try it out or go for the gold with a half-gallon or gallon-sized jar.)
- Tea basket/strainer/infuser (For making hot tea, I love these mesh tea strainers that rest on the edge of your mug and come with their own steeping lids that double as a place to put your stainer when you’re done steeping. If making cold brew or sun tea, I’ll often just add loose hibiscus flowers to the jar and pour through a fine-mesh strainer later.)
- Dried Hibiscus Flowers (I prefer cut & sifted flowers for making tea, but whole hibiscus flowers work fine also.)
- Water (Filtered water is always best, as the quality of your water can dramatically affect the taste (and your enjoyment) of the tea.)
- Optional: Add a slice of fresh ginger, orange, lime, or even a cinnamon stick or a few whole cloves.
Method #1: Hot-Brewed Hibiscus Iced Tea
- Bring water to just a boil.
- Add dried hibiscus flowers to a tea strainer/ball/basket and set in your favorite mug. You can also use a store-bought hibiscus tea bag. FGO sells organic hibiscus tea bags, as does Traditional Medicinals. If using loose hibiscus tea, add about 2-3 teaspoons of dried flowers per cup of hot water depending on how strong you’d like your tea to be.
- Steep covered for 8-10 minutes. And then either remove the tea ball or bag or pour your hot tea through a fine mesh strainer.
- Sweeten if desired and enjoy. A raw, local honey is a great option for sweetening hibiscus tea.
Method #2: Cold Brew Hibiscus Iced Tea (ie. Cold Infusion)
- Add dried hibiscus flowers to a quart-sized glass jar. Use ~1 tablespoon of dried hibiscus flowers per cup of water. If making your cold brew in a quart-sized, add ~1/4 cup to the jar and then fill the jar with filtered water.
- Set jar in refrigerator to infuse for 8-12 hours or overnight. The longer you let the hibiscus tea infuse, the stronger it will be and the more plant compounds the water will be able to extract.
- Strain, sweeten if desired, & enjoy! You can either strain the entire jar at one time or just strain out a cup at a time.
Method #3: Iced Hibiscus Sun Tea
To make sun tea, follow the instructions for making cold brew hibiscus, except skip the refrigerated infusion and set your jar to infuse in a sunny spot in your yard for 3-5 hours or longer. You can taste your tea periodically and bring it inside when it’s to your liking. Then strain and sweeten if desired.
Hey fellow tea lover!
Herbal teas are one of the oldest & most accessible herbal remedies on the planet. And it’s incredibly empowering (& easy!) to blend your own. Check out this step-by-step guide:
How to Blend Your Own Nourishing Herbal Teas
Summer Refreshments Need an Upgrade?! Try These:
Hibiscus Tea FAQs
Is it better to drink hibiscus tea hot or cold?
Hibiscus can be enjoyed either hot or cold. It’s mostly personal preference. However, because vitamin C (that gives hibiscus its characteristic tartness) is heat-sensitive, hot-brewed hibiscus tea will have a lower vitamin C content. And it’s still quite tart!
If you’re wanting more immune-boosting power in your tea, make cold brew or use a lower heat method like making sun tea. Cold-brewed hibiscus tea typically has a fruitier, smoother, and more delicate flavor. And while it’s still incredibly tart like cranberry juice, most say that they need to use less sweetener when making cold-brewed hibiscus tea.
On the other hand, most traditional methods of making hibiscus tea involve boiling the flowers or steeping it in hot water. Then, the tea is usually sweetened and poured over ice. Hibiscus flowers that have been boiled or steeped in hot water tend to be slightly less fruity and delicate tasting, having more of a “cooked” taste.
Is hibiscus tea good for weight loss?
It might be! A 2014 study found that hibiscus extract can not only help to prevent obesity but can also help to decrease abdominal fat and reduce non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This is due to the metabolic-regulating effects of hibiscus. With obesity’s association with major health problems, hibiscus may be an effective addition to weight management protocols.
While this study was done using hibiscus extract, it suggests that hibiscus tea may also have the same benefits. The numerous health benefits of hibiscus flower suggest that drinking hibiscus tea can be delicious addition to your daily herbal wellness routines.
What are the side effects of drinking hibiscus tea?
Under normal consumption, meaning ~1-3 cups of hibiscus tea a day, the risk of side effects is relatively low. However, when introducing any medicinal herbs to your diet or homemade herbal remedies, always consult with a licensed health practitioner or a practicing clinical herbalist especially if you’re pregnant, nursing, have preexisting health conditions, or are taking prescription medications.
Due to its blood pressure lowering effects, hibiscus may be contraindicated with blood pressure or diabetes medications. If you already tend towards having low blood pressure, hibiscus tea may make you dizzy or faint.
What part of hibiscus is used for tea?
The part of the hibiscus that is used for tea is typically the fresh or dried calyces. You’ll often see dried hibiscus sold as “hibiscus flowers,” however this is a slight misnomer, botanically speaking. The calyces are more accurately the fruit of the hibiscus than the flower. But potayto, potahto...
Hibiscus leaves are also edible and can be used for making tea, however, it’s not nearly as common as using the calyces. And you’d be generally hard-pressed to find hibiscus leaf tea!
Where can I find dried hibiscus?
You can actually find loose hibiscus tea at most conventional groceries these days. If they carry them, you’ll often find them in the ethnic food section, most typically near the Hispanic food items. They’re typically in bags next to all the bags of dried chilies, corn husks, tamarind, and similar items.
Many groceries will also carry hibiscus tea bags in the regular tea section. But if you’re unable to find dried hibiscus at your local groceries, there are many online herb suppliers. My go-to for the highest quality, most ethically grown and harvested herbs is Mountain Rose Herbs. They carry cut & sifted hibiscus flowers, whole hibiscus flowers, and even hibiscus flower powder.
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Hibiscus Iced Tea – Hot Brew, Cold Brew, or Sun TeaCourse: DrinksCuisine: Herbal TeaDifficulty: Easy
10 mins to 12 hours
Here are 3 easy ways to make a refreshing iced hibiscus tea to help cool down the summer heat. Hot brewed hibiscus tea takes as little as 8-10 minutes. And while the cold brew or sun tea methods can take several hours, these methods help to preserve the high vitamin C content. All are delicious; you choose! A squeeze of lime can help to balance the tartness and if desired, sweeten with honey or maple syrup!
- Hot-Brewed Hibiscus Iced Tea (makes 1 cup)
2-3 teaspoons loose hibiscus flowers (or 1 hibiscus tea bag)
8 fl. oz water
- Cold Brew Hibiscus Tea or Hibiscus Sun Tea (makes 4 cups)
1/4 cup loose hibiscus flowers (or 4 hibiscus tea bags)
1 quart (32 fl. oz) water
- To Make Hot-Brewed Hibiscus Iced Tea
- Use a small saucepan or tea kettle to bring water to just a boil.
- Add dried hibiscus flowers to a tea strainer/ball/basket (or a tea bag if using) and set in your favorite mug.
- Steep covered for 8-10 minutes. And then either remove the tea ball or bag or strain by pouring the hot tea through a fine mesh strainer.
- Sweeten if desired, pour over ice, and enjoy. A raw, local honey is a great option for sweetening hibiscus tea.
- To Make Cold Brew Hibiscus Ice Tea or Iced Hibiscus Sun Tea
- Add dried hibiscus flowers to a quart-sized glass jar then fill the jar with filtered water. Put the lid on the jar and give the jar a shake.
- If making cold brew, set jar in refrigerator to infuse for 8-12 hours or overnight.
If making sun tea, set the jar out in a sunny spot of your yard for 3-5 hours.
The longer you let the hibiscus tea infuse, the stronger it will be and the more plant compounds the water will be able to extract.
- Strain, sweeten if desired, pour over ice, & enjoy! You can either strain the entire jar at one time or just strain out a cup at a time.
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DISCLAIMER: The information given in this article is intended for educational purposes only and is not meant to treat, diagnose, or prescribe intervention. Always consult with your healthcare practitioner before consuming certain herbs & medicinal foods, especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking any prescription medications.