(left) cup of hibiscus tea with foil package of Starwest Botanicals dried hibiscus flowers (right) package Celestial Seasonings Raspberry Zinger herbal tea

|| 10 August 2017

Hibiscus Tea

Another non-caffeine tea I find especially refreshing in warm weather is hibiscus tea. Its tart, berry-like flavor is especially thirst-quenching. And I find that when I am hungry, hibiscus tea has an appetite-appeasing quality. (That’s nice.) You can brew the tea from only the dried hibiscus flowers. Or in combination with other ingredients as in Celestial Seasonings Raspberry Zinger herbal tea.

I had already been drinking hibiscus tea brewed from the dried flowers when Chic & Slim reader Anita emailed to say that she found Raspberry Zinger herbal tea a good tea to drink when she was trying to cut back on her caffeinated tea consumption. (Merci, Anita) I tried the Raspberry Zinger and found that the addition of rosehips, roasted chicory, orange peel and raspberry flavors to the hibiscus made a flavorful tea.

For drinking as a hot tea, I prefer Raspberry Zinger. But for drinking chilled in hot weather, I prefer the hibiscus tea served over ice and its tartness cut with a little stevia. I should note that it is only hibiscus tea made entirely from hibiscus flowers that I find effective against mild hunger sensations. I should also note that I have never read any other claim the same benefit. But it works for me.

How do you brew the dried hibiscus flowers? You can crush the dried flowers and pour boiling water over them and allow them to steep 5 to 10 minutes as you would many other herbal teas. But the method I have settled on is to boil the dried flowers 5 minutes and then steep 55 minutes. (This idea came from a recipe on the Martha Stewart website.)

I have never had a problem with the Starwest Botanicals dried hibiscus flowers, but in another package of dried hibiscus flowers I ordered from the English Tea Store I found a huge (and I mean HUGE) burr and several small clods of dirt. Yuck !

Now, even with the Starwest hibiscus, I do a quick rinse for the dried flowers in cold water, then bring them to a boil in water and simmer covered for 5 minutes, turn off the heat and let the leaves steep covered for 55 minutes before straining. I brew about a cup of (uncrushed) dried flowers in three cups of water. This makes a concentrated tea that I cool and store in the refrigerator adding ice and sometimes more water when serving.

Hibiscus tea is popular in Mexico. The Mexican health service has done testing and found drinking hibiscus tea effective in treating mild high blood pressure. But I must tell you that I tested this and I found absolutely no change in my blood pressure reading, either up or down, after drinking hibiscus tea. This was possibly due to the fact that the only dried hibiscus flowers I have been able to purchase are imported from Egypt. Hibiscus in North Africa may be a different variety than those grown in Mexico and consequently not effective in treating hypertension. If, at some point, I am able to buy dried hibiscus flowers that I can verify are are the same the Mexican health service tested, I will test them.

For now, I enjoy hibiscus tea as a refreshing beverage — and to zap hunger sensations between meals.

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone