Sunday, August 10, 2008

Delicious Iced Beverages: Hibiscus Tea

I have to confess. I do not deal well with heat and humidity. When summer kicks into high gear, I hole up in the a/c and whimper. One of my obsessions this summer is making tasty iced beverages. My roommate has engaged in inspiration/instigating in this area. One of my favorites she has made is iced hibiscus tea.

The first thing you need to know is that this tea is the most beautiful deep reddish pink color. The second is that and I cleaned the local co-op out of hibiscus flowers making this. Third, I purchased a pound of dried hibiscus off the internet, and I've gone through half of it in a month. Fourth, it is a natural diuretic so guzzling it right before bed will lead to you getting up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. Repeatedly.

Right then. Iced hibiscus tea. It's tangy, delicious, cooling and refreshing. The flavor has a tang similar to pomegranate or cranberry juice. Hibiscus is the "zing" in Celestial Seasonings zinger teas. In Mexico it's called Jamaica (pronounced ha-MIKE-uh), and you can find dried hibiscus as "flor de jamaica" in your local bodega. You can also find dried hibiscus flowers at natural food stores, Whole Foods and other places where you buy bougie foodie nonsense. Since and I cleaned out our local establishments, I bought organic fair trade hibiscus from Montain Rose Herbs (along with dried rose petals, but that's another post).

Remember how I mentioned the gorgeous color of hibiscus tea? It also stains like a mofo, so if you're a klutz like me don't wear white while making it. Get a large pot and boil about 6 cups of water. When it comes to the boil, turn off the heat and add about 1/2 cup of dried hibiscus (Or 1-2 handfuls) and a half cup of sugar. Give everything a stir, cover the pot and let the mixture steep for about a half hour. Add 1/4 cup of lime juice and 2 big spoonfulls of minced ginger (I use Ginger People's jarred minced ginger. I used to make a face at for being too lazy to mince her own ginger, then I noticed how this stuff is insanely cheap and easy to use. Now I buy it as well). Then dip a ladle in in the pot, stir it around and have a taste. Adjust lime and sugar levels to taste. Serve over lots of ice and near a cool breeze. This is also tasty with a slug of rum or mixed with white wine.