Hibiscus, scientific name Hibiscus Sabdariffa, is a bushy plant originating from North Africa and Southeast Asia. It is known from many different names including Ambashthaki, Bissap, Gongura, Groseille de Guinée, Guinea Sorrel, Hibisco, Hibiscus Calyx, Hibiscus sabdariffa, Jamaica Sorrel, Karkade, Karkadé, Oseille de Guinée, Oseille Rouge, Pulicha Keerai, Red Sorrel, Red Tea, Rosa de Jamaica, Roselle, Sour Tea, Sudanese Tea, Thé Rose d’Abyssinie, Thé Rouge, Zobo, Zobo Tea. It comes from the mallow family called Malvaceae and from the genus Hibiscus. In the Philippines, we have Gumamela which looks similar to Hibiscus. They are from the same family but not the same genus.
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Hibiscus is used in food and beverages as well as alternative medicine. The flowers are used in drinks, jams, soup, sauce, spice mix and even as natural food coloring. But the most popular use, is to make tea out of it.
Drinks made using Hibiscus flowers
In alternative medicine, the flowers and other parts of hibiscus are used to treat colds, stomach irritation, swelling, loss of appetite, cough, stomach irritation and many more.
Health Benefits of Hibiscus
Hibiscus and Blood Pressure
In the study published in Journal of Nutrition in 2010, people who were served three 8-oz serving of hibiscus tea daily for 6 weeks showed lower blood pressure compared to those who were served with placebo drink. Another study published in 2015 showed that participants who drank hibiscus tea showed lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure. More studies are needed to prove these claims though.
Hibiscus, Cholesterol and Diabetes
Hibiscus have shown to help in managing cholesterol levels. According to a study published in 2009, Sour Tea or Hibiscus tea has hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects and may be helpful for people who are suffering from diabetes and other metabolic diseases.
How to Make Hibiscus Kombucha Tea
Hibiscus tea can be used to make kombucha tea. It contains tannins, which the SCOBY uses to thrive on. Since hibiscus tea is already flavorful, second fermentation and flavoring is just optional. Click here to get my hibiscus kombucha tea recipe.
Hibiscus Jelly Recipe
This hibiscus jelly recipe is adapted from Genius Kitchen’s recipe. Pectin could be hard to find in the Philippines, so I used Guar gum instead. If you have cornstarch, that could work as well.
¼ cup Dried hibiscus flowers/Tea
1 ½ cup water (you may also use apple juice or cranberry juice)
1 cup boiling water
1 cup vinegar
4 tbsp kalamansi juice
5 cups sugar
2 tsp cornstarch or Guar gum
- Bring to boil 1 cup of water. When water starts boiling, add 5 cups of sugar. Stir until completely dissolved.
- Add hibiscus flowers and steep for 8-10 minutes. Do not stir.
- Remove the flowers.
- Mix all the remaining water or juice, kalamansi juice and vinegar in a bowl and add in the cornstarch or guar gum to make a roax. Then pour in the mixture to the pot. Turn off the heat once the mixture has thicken.
- Let the mixture cool down, then store in jars.
Want to make hibiscus tea or jelly at home? Get your stash of Organic Hibiscus Tea here.