Looking for a healthier version of those diet drinks that somehow still haven’t gone out of fashion? Let me introduce you to the amazing benefits of delicious and stunning hibiscus tea! This gorgeous flower not only tastes amazing in warm herbal teas, it makes an incredibly refreshing iced tea.
Even better, unlike those chemically-flavored drinks, hibiscus tea benefits your health, too! Some of the reasons to consider incorporating this beautiful brew into your beverage routine:
- Hibiscus is rich in antioxidants, which are great for fighting oxidative damage and signs of aging
- Hibiscus has been shown to lower blood pressure
- It may have a positive impact on cholesterol levels
- Hibiscus may improve metabolism and help with weight loss
- It may help control candida overgrowth
- It may alleviate depression
Plus with hibiscus tea, you get a drink with no chemical colors, sweeteners, or additives. Say bye-bye to aspartame and petroleum-based red 40, hello healthy hibiscus!
Did I mention it’s also delicious? This tart and tasty tea is my go-to for a calorie-free hydrating pick me up year round. And because it’s naturally caffeine-free, you can drink it any time of day.
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**Pregnant women should avoid hibiscus as it may induce premature labor.**
Note that because hibiscus is often intercropped with peanuts, people with severe peanut allergies may have a reaction to hibiscus.
Because of its ability to lower blood pressure, you should also avoid hibiscus if you are on blood pressure lowering medication. It may interact with other medications as well, so be sure to talk to your doctor if you are on any sort of medication or have health issues you’re being treated for.
Hibiscus is very acidic, so if you have issues with heartburn, you may want to avoid it. Also take sensible precations to protect your teeth — drink through a reusable straw when possible (I like these), and rinse your mouth with water when you’re done.
As with everything, moderation is key. Enormous quantities of hibiscus may be toxic, though Dr. Axe reports that it would be really hard to consume enough tea to reach the levels used in animal studies. This is an interesting video from Nutrition Facts.org suggesting some sensible limits on hibiscus tea, especially for children, because of the possibility of excess aluminum absorption.
But a cup or two per day of hibiscus tea may have a beneficial impact on your health and is worth adding to your beverage rotation.
What is Hibiscus Tea?
Also known as roselle, Hibiscus sabdariffa is a tropical flower. What we brew up when we buy hibiscus tea is the ruby-red calyx, the protective covering around the flower.
I buy hibscus by the pound and brew some in my infuser cup or a small pot most days. I love the tartness first thing in the morning, or as a refreshing drink anytime. Over ice on a hot day, it hits the spot. Here’s what it looks like — gorgeous, right?
Tap into the impressive health benefits of hibiscus tea by making your own!
Why brew your own loose hibiscus tea?
Making tea from loose hibiscus is super cheap! A one-pound bag of organic hibiscus costs just over $10 and will make numerous pots of tea. Far cheaper than bagged tea of any kind, plus far less waste.
If you buy premade drinks, making your own will also save you a lot of money and cut the footprint of your beverage significantly. You also get to control the ingredients, so no chemical flavorings or color or excess sugar. Better for you, better for the planet. Win-win!
If you’re interested in adding some hibiscus to your edible garden, check out this post from Tyrant Farms. In colder climates you can grow hibiscus as an annual. Note that we’re talking here about Hibiscus sabdariffa, not any old hibiscus flower you buy at a garden center. (There are 200 species and 5000 hybrids!) If you decide to harvest your own hibiscus sabdariffa, you need to wait for the calyx to form. Unlike other teas made from flowers, the petals aren’t what we’re brewing up for healthy hibiscus tea.
Healthy Hibiscus Tea Recipe
Hibiscus tea is warming and bright in winter and delicously refreshing iced in summer, so you can enjoy the benefits of hibiscus tea all year round. Make a big pot and keep it in your fridge when you need a cold drink.
It has a pleasantly sour flavor that doesn’t require sweetener, though you could add a little honey if you prefer. Most hibiscus tea recipes I’ve seen call for a lot of sugar, which I find totally unnecessary.
I feel a little silly calling this a recipe, since it’s just water and hibiscus!
To make hibiscus tea:
Simply add 1 tbsp hibiscus per 8 oz boiled filtered water. (Here’s why you should drink filtered water.)
Allow to steep at least 10 minutes, but several hours is fine also and will likely extract more beneficial compounds than a shorter brew time. For iced hibiscus tea, a double-strength brew poured over ice is wonderfully refreshing and a super-healthy substitute for sugary and chemical-filled beverages.
You can make your hibiscus tea plain, or you can mix in some other health-promoting herbs. The flavor of hibiscus is so strong, you won’t notice other flavors much. I ususally mix in some dried nettle for added benefits.
A lot of recipes for hibiscus tea call for a good deal of sugar, but the tartness of the tea is actually quite pleasant. If you’re trying to cut back on sugar, give your taste buds a chance to adjust to the flavor before dumping in a lot of sugar or honey. Or try starting with a smaller than normal amount of sweetener and cut back gradually. You might eventually prefer it plain as well!
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Other Uses for Hibiscus
- Brittany at The Pistachio Project uses hibiscus and a mix of other herbs to make an herbal alternative to Kool Aid for her kids. She also puts its vibrant red color to use in fun projects like window clings and facial masks. She uses it in a hair rinse I’ve been wanting to try as well.
- Tiffany at Don’t Waste the Crumbs makes rosehip and hibiscus kombucha.
- Hibiscus’s gorgeous hue also makes it a natural for DIY food coloring without chemicals. Try some for your next pink frosting or Easter Eggs.
But even if you have time for nothing more than a cup of tea, hibiscus is an herb worth getting to know. Leave a comment if you try it and let me know what you think!
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Disclaimer: I’m a health enthusiast, not a medical professional. Content on this website is intended for informational purposes only and is not meant to provide personalized medical advice. I draw on numerous health sources, some of which are linked above. Please consult them for more information and a licensed professional for personalized recommendations.
Photo credits: Loose hibiscus photo by AnnTS, others by Susannah