Ever Had Spiced Hibiscus Flower Tea?

One of my favorite plants to grow down here is hibiscus. It is truly a beautiful plant and the flowers are breathtaking.

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I am not the only one who appreciates hibiscus. We frequently have hummingbirds in the garden sipping hibiscus nectar. My favorite part about the plant though, is that it’s edible. Hibiscus is high in vitamin C and iron. It is high in antioxidants as well. I find it interesting that it is iron rich considering hibiscus often suffers from iron chlorosis (a condition caused by a lack of available iron in the soil. You can spot it in the above picture as the light colored leaves with dark veining). Hibiscus may use and store more iron than most plants which might make it more susceptible to iron chlorosis. That would be a great question for a specialty grower or botanist.

Hibiscus is a member of the mallow family (Malvaceae.) It’s a kissing cousin to okra (one of my very favorite high heat vegetables.)

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This is an okra flower. You can see the mallow family resemblance!

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I grew okra in my front yard last year. Nobody complained! It isn’t as showy as hibiscus but you get the okra pods as a consolation prize!

Hibiscus is in flower most of the summer down here, which is quite a feat. Most plants (and people) wilt in the mid summer soaring temperatures. Everything tends to shut down and wait out the heat. I know I’m completely nuts, but I can honestly say that the heat usually doesn’t get to me. But I grew up in Texas, it’s highly probable that I just don’t register heat like people do who are from cooler climates.

When the flowers are in bloom I can usually be found enjoying hibiscus tea. I make it daily in the summer and it’s a simple process.

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Gather approximately 8-12 newly opened or unopened flowers in the morning. Use flowers from plants that have not had chemicals sprayed on them. I have used flowers from later in the day. The problem with this is: that you need to remove any damaged areas of an older flower. You will need more flowers to make up for what you remove.

Twist off the stem and the sepal (the green part).

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Open the flower if it is still closed and remove the reproductive parts: the pistil and stamen (Flowers are a plant’s sex organs! You can deal with your issues over that new found knowledge later.)

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You should be left with just the petals. Put the petals in a strainer and rinse them off.

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Start a pot of water on the stove. I usually use about four cups of water for the tea, enough to share. You can measure out the water by using the cup you intend to drink from.

I don’t advise drinking more than two cups of this in a day. In high enough quantity: the spices you will be adding will upset your stomach. So, unless you are sharing with a crowd or storing some in the fridge for later don’t try to make gallons of it. Moderation, in all things, is a good plan.

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Gather up your spices. I like chai and use some of the spices you would find in it. For this tea I use: cinnamon, cardamom, allspice and fennel. You don’t need much, maybe a teaspoon to 2 teaspoons combined total. In quantity the spices will quickly overpower the hibiscus flavor, so start conservatively. Omit anything you don’t feel like shopping for or using.

I use whole spices and crush them in my mortar and pestle, but pre-ground spices from your grocer are fine. If you are interested in a mortar and pestle you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for a set while you’re out and about. A good place to try would be a spice specialty store or you can search online. Unfortunately it’s a pretty outdated tool here, but it’s a wonderful addition to a kitchen collection for those of us in the know.

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Bring your water to a boil and turn off the heat. Add your petals and spices. Let steep for 5-10 minutes but no longer or it will get bitter. The petals will quickly transfer their color (and flavor) and turn a light purple/gray color. If you want a stronger flavor: add more flowers, instead of steeping the tea longer.

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Scoop out your petals and put them in the compost pile. Pour your tea through a strainer to remove the spice pieces.

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Add a dollop of honey, stir and drink up. You can vary the spices according to your taste.

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For an entirely different way to enjoy hibiscus tea you can try this site: link There is a short video at the bottom that shows how to make a tropical iced tea version.

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Now you have one more reason to grow and enjoy the beautiful and tasty hibiscus!

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61 responses to “Ever Had Spiced Hibiscus Flower Tea?

  1. that’s amazing; I’m familiar with the hibiscus flowers and i do believe they come in different colors as well, but I never thought they made tea with the flower. good job. vw

  2. Amazing all the things plants can do – that tea looks lovely. And now I know okra & hibiscus are related (good trivia fact to tuck away)!

    • It’s always good to know your plant families. It helps with the war on disease and insects, which I will admit I’ve never seen anything like what I get with that down here. Heat, humidity and the fact that nature cleans up anything she cannot use: makes using my garden for my own consumption a battlefield!

  3. Great post and photos of the process. I don’t have a place to grow hibiscus but this reminds me I want to try other homegrown infusions this year. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I think I have some Red Zinger in the pantry. πŸ˜€

    • Thank you! I’m glad you liked the post. If you like red zinger, drink it proudly! I would bet most people have some old boxes of neglected, generic teas in the cupboard. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Thanks for the thumbs up, Green Thumbs. Like your blog. Finally it’s Spring, eh? πŸ™‚

    • It doesn’t get cold for very long down here. But, I still welcome spring when it shows up! Happy birthday, 35 is still young. Most people I know, who have made it into later life, tell me their 40 ‘ s were their best decade. So far, I’m going to have to agree with them! Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate it.

  5. What a great easy how-to for this tea i’ve enjoyed for years in many places. Thanks for breaking it down!

  6. I like hibiscus tea but never thought about making my own. That’s reason enough to have a hibiscus plant.

  7. Always see hibiscus around and didn’t know they can be made into a tea. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Wow..i would love to try this..:)
    I have nominated you for The Sunshine award.
    http://creativnerd.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/the-sunshine-award/
    πŸ™‚

  9. Love Hibiscus tea. Was introduced to it by an elderly woman on my 1st job when I was 16. She drank it slightly sweetened and with the tiniest bit of vanilla seed. It, and still is one of my faves. In the northern climates up in Chi-town the plants do not grow well as they usually winter kill unless one has a greenhouse – which I do not. But you can buy wonderful organic petals in a reliable health store. I will have to try your spiced version as it sounds wonderful.

  10. I tried this hisbiscus tea when I travelled to Egypt in 2010 and since then I’ve been trying to find the same flavor. Maybe its because it was spiced. I’ve tried buying it at a tea shop and it doesn’t quite taste the same. Still delicious but different.
    Awesome post! πŸ™‚ Definitely thinking about planting a hibiscus plant, especially since the flowers are gorgeous!

  11. I would just never, ever do this. But I adore that you did and wrote about it and took these pretty pictures. Now I have to go read everything you’ve ever written.

    • Well, I hope you find a reason to try this one day! It’s very simple and tasty. Hibiscus does really well in pots, so you don’t even need a garden area to grow it. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment! I appreciate it.

  12. wonderful, will try! thank you

  13. I’m a tea addict as this sounds amazing!

  14. I have hibiscus in my garden; but I can’t get past the hummingbirds in your garden. I’m sooooo envious!

    • If you’re growing it, keep your eyes out for hummers. I notice them only at certain times of the day. If you have a wild bird feed store near you you could ask them for help attracting hummingbirds and when to expect them. Good luck!

  15. I live in Australia but, unfortunately, hummingbirds don’t. I remember that as I child I was fascinated by a picture of a beautiful hummingbird hovering over a flower. I thought it was just amazing. Last year when my daughter visited the States, she saw a little hummingbird near where she was staying. She brought back for me a beautiful paper artwork of a hummingbird. One day I also may see one “in the flesh”; a treat I look forward to!

    • Oh my! I’d never thought of life without hummingbirds. They are a delight and I hope you see one some day! They do actually hum because they beat their wings so quickly. When I was young my family stayed at a cabin in Colorado. The hummingbirds would dive bomb each other. They’d fly up so high they were a speck in the sky and come down at full speed. They are incredible acrobats and very territorial. They’ll stake out a feeder and attempt to drive others away. I think they think they are a lot bigger than they actually are! Beautiful and fun to watch. I do hope you get to see their antics some day.

  16. I have never tried hibiscus tea before, will definitely be having some if I can find it in England! Beautiful photos too btw πŸ™‚ x

  17. With hibiscus’ acidity, it probably wouldn’t work to mix milk with the tea (as is the practice with masala chai to prevent digestive upset from the spices); but padding hibiscus tea with some foods rich in fats might alleviate stomach issues due to overindulgence.

  18. Reblogged this on natashastopford and commented:
    Can’t wait to try this!

  19. I just love this post and the tea you made. It has really inspired me to forage around in New Zealand and to make some native tea. The grubs are massive by the way!

    • Make sure you get some advice from an herbalist or online before you make a tea you’ve never made before. My mom used to put sprigs of a plant in our tea when we were growing up. Only when I was older did I realize the pleasant lemon flavor that lantana lent our teas was toxic! Herbal teas are a form of medicine as well. Moderation is the way to go. I hope you get to enjoy your herbal concoctions soon!

      • Thanks for your cautions. I will make sure that I don’t give her anything before checking it out first. They have a woman called a tohunga who is like a medicine woman and she will know what plants to give her.

  20. Thank you for sharing this! I have not had Hibiscus tea for awhile and I do love the flowers and the tea. Your recipe makes it simple so now I am not too afraid to try and make my own!

  21. What a great idea! I’ve had bought hibiscus tea before but never thought of making it =D

  22. I will speak to my partner who is a great lover of hibisci and tea but has never put the two together

  23. I have one question, do the flowers have to be red? I have several Hibiscus but they are all different colors. I hope you can use other colors. I know this may be a supid question!

  24. Oh my gosh! You and my mom could be soul mates. LOL. She is going to love your blog.

  25. What’s up i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anyplace,
    when i read this post i thought i could also make comment due
    to this sensible paragraph.

  26. I have a lot of hibiscus and lemongrass and ginger we use. Ibiscus is a great decoration and healthy

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