Monday, January 10, 2011

Tea Time...

Here in Mexico, water is often substituted for “Agua del Dia”, which is water with fresh fruit (and sometimes sugar). One of my favorites is Agua de Jamaica, which is really Hibiscus Tea (sans sugar). Hibiscus tea is made from the Hibiscus Sabdariffa, grown in tropical countries. I’ve noticed the pretty, bright pink/red flowers lining the streets of Boca Raton, but who knew we could eat it? The calyces (fruits) of the flower are harvested and dried- then ready to make Hibiscus Tea (or Jamaica in Mexico).

Why Have You Done a Good Thing?
Hibiscus tea is filled with anthocyanins (pigments responsible for the red, blue, purple colors in fruits, vegetables, grains) and vitamin C, which work together as powerful antioxidants to fight the common winter cold, aging, and age-related degenerative diseases. Hibiscus tea is also being researched for its ability to lower blood pressure, possibly due to its diuretic effect. In the good ol’ days, hibiscus tea was used to aid in digestion as it is thought to stimulate intestinal movement. This tea is truly delicious, similar to a fruity-but-tart lemonade, so drink up! Here’s how:

Make Iced Hibiscus Tea
Steep 4 oz of dried hibiscus fruit in 2-3 quarts of boiling hot water (depending on how strong you want it), steep for 10 minutes. Strain hibiscus and place in the refrigerator to chill.

Some like it hot…
Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1-2 tsp of dried hibiscus, steep for 5-10 minutes; strain.

Make it Sweet, make it Simple: make Simple Syrup!
Boil sugar in water, with a 1:2 ratio, accordingly. (i.e. 1 cup sugar + 2 cups boiling water)
--Add syrup to sweeten
--Add fresh mint leaves for added flavor and decoration.

Calories in Hibiscus Tea (sans sugar): practically none, about 50 in a large pitcher + 2g fiber

Where to find it:
Here in Mexico City, I can find it easily at the fresh produce markets, and if you are in NYC so can you! Fresh Hibiscus

Dried Hibiscus can be found in most grocery stores and specialty stores, such as Whole Foods.

Healthy, Delicious, Refreshing…

--Samantha Jacobs, RD

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