Ultimate Guide To Hibiscus: Health Benefits, How To Brew And What It Tastes Like

Hibiscus tea plant | Life of Cha


With a bold red color and a tart flavor that reminds one of cranberry juice, hibiscus tea is one of the most popular beverages in the world. We use only one type of hibiscus flower for this tea, which is actually a tisane.

Hibiscus tea in tea pot

If you often fill your cup with this brew, perhaps you might like to discover more about it. Before we dive in, there is something we want to share with you. Did you know that a cup of hibiscus tea has many health benefits to offer? Keep on reading and find out what these are.

What is hibiscus tea?

Hibiscus flowers have red petals of a velvety texture, but we do not use these specifically for the tea. The tea you have grown to love so much comes to life from the calyces of the flower.

Hibiscus tea plant | Life of Cha

Even though there are many hibiscus species, only one–Hibiscus Sadariffa–is used to make the delicious beverage. The hibiscus flowers grow mainly in tropical and subtropical regions. It is common in Africa, Jamaica, and East Asia, and known under several names: Roselle, Rosella, flor de Jamaica.  

The beverage is a tisane, meaning an infusion of dried herbs and it has medicinal properties. We are all familiar with its intense red color, and its tart taste is the reason we love it so much. Consumed hot or cold, it contains a lot of beneficial substances, including antioxidants.

Hibiscus iced tea

Each culture has its own twist on the red hibiscus tea. In some parts of America, they savor it as a delicious summer beverage by adding ingredients such as ginger, clove, cinnamon, and even rum. In Jamaica, they know it as flor de Jamaica, and prepared as an infusion from dried hibiscus calyces.

What makes it special? Its versatility. But also, that it can speak of a unique cultural influence. Iced hibiscus tea is used to toast weddings in Africa, and we often find its sweeter version in Asia, sometimes combined with Chinese tea leaves. Europeans prefer it hot, and often with lemon.


What are the health benefits of red hibiscus tea?

day spa relaxing tea

Check out the wide range of health benefits hibiscus tea can give:

  • Anti-aging properties– rich in antioxidants, it keeps the skin looking young

  • Detox–the regular consumption of hibiscus tea can help you eliminate toxins, and supports the health of the liver (antioxidants reduce the damage caused by free radicals)

  • Strengthens the immune system–contains vitamin C, an antioxidant which keeps you healthy, lowering the risk of infection

  • Effective weapon against depression–rich in flavonoids, substances well-known for their antidepressant properties; calming effect; lowers the risk of anxiety and panic attacks

  • Lowers the level of bad cholesterol–regular consumption associated with a lower risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke

  • Lowers blood pressure–recommended to those who suffer from hypertension

  • Lowers blood sugar–the perfect beverage for those diagnosed with type-2 diabetes

  • Contributes to weight loss–lowers the carb absorption, you can also use it to replace calorie-rich beverages and stick to your diet

  • Helps with digestion–more effective bowel movements, acts as a mild laxative and it helps with common complaints, such as bloating or constipation

  • Better bladder function–helps with urination, diuretic properties

  • Relief from period manifestations–helps with the pain and menstrual cramps, reduces mood swings and balances hormones

  • Anti-inflammatory properties–might prevent the spread of cancerous cells within the body.

To enjoy these health benefits, consume hibiscus tea regularly. For instance, if you are suffering from high blood pressure, you should drink three cups per day, for several weeks.

What are the side effects of hibiscus flower tea?

Hibiscus flower tea is not dangerous to consume. But it can cause several side effects, depending on the person who drinks it and associated conditions, or treatments followed.

For example, health specialists do not recommend this beverage to women who are looking to conceive, as it can lower estrogen levels and affect fertility. Women on birth control or those who receive hormone replacement therapy might want to consider other types, as this tea can affect the efficacy of both.

Patients who undergo chemotherapy or radiation therapy for various forms of cancer should not consume it, as hibiscus tea can make the therapy-inducing side effects worse.

If you are suffering from hypotension or take medication to lower your blood pressure, it is not a good idea to drink this beverage. Not only does it have diuretic properties, but it causes the blood vessels to expand, lowering the blood pressure even more. Thus, you might feel lightheaded (transient effect).

Best time to drink hibiscus flower tea

hibiscus iced tea

One of the best times to drink hibiscus flower tea is after a meal. The beverage is rich in flavonoids, substances that can prevent fat absorption within the body. A cup of tea after your lunch or dinner can make a difference and help you stay within a healthy weight limit. Naturally, it is better to consume it without sugar in this case.

What does hibiscus flower tea taste like?

hibiscus iced tea

The herbal drink has a sour taste, and its vibrant flavor reminds of cranberries. If you take one sip and close your eyes, allowing your palate time to accommodate with the beverage, you might also detect some fruity notes.

The flavor resembles the one of rosehip tea and, thanks to the slight sweet notes, your taste buds will explode. Its deep red color somehow suggests the wonderful taste experience you will have.

How to brew hot hibiscus tea properly

hibiscus iced tea

A hot cup of hibiscus tea can warm you on a frosty winter day, and it can do wonders for a sore throat.

Take two teaspoons of dried hibiscus calyces and add them into boiling water. Allow the tisane to brew between five and ten minutes, then strain the beverage and pour it into a cup. You can add sugar or honey to sweeten it, and other flavors–such as ginger, mint or cinnamon–to enhance the taste. Enjoy the tea while it is still hot.

How to make hibiscus iced tea properly

hibiscus cold brew tea

A cold glass of hibiscus iced tea can be the perfect choice for hot summer weather, allowing you to stay hydrated and cool at the same time.

For a great taste, take some chilled water and add dried hibiscus calyces to it the day before serving. In the morning, you can strain the tea and pour it into a glass. Add ice cubes and optionally, sugar or another sweetener. To enhance its flavors, you can use ginger, clove, and cinnamon. Rum can transform the hibiscus iced tea into a delicious afternoon treat.

Other amazing ways to use hibiscus

While the beverage that results from infusing dried hibiscus calyces is delicious and healthy, know that there are other amazing ways to use this herb. Were you aware that you can use hibiscus to promote hair health?

Hibiscus For Hair Health

Hibiscus can help with dandruff and dry hair, not to mention it stimulates your hair to grow. Rich in amino acids and other beneficial ingredients, it can make your hair thicker and healthier overall.

You can easily prepare a hibiscus hair mask at home, mixing hibiscus flowers and leaves with yoghurt. Transform the first into a paste and then add the yoghurt, leaving the mask on for about an hour. Wash your hair with shampoo and rinse it with warm water.

If you want to get rid of dandruff, mix hibiscus leaves with fenugreek seeds and buttermilk. Alternatively, you can mix hibiscus leaves and flowers, with lemon juice and mehendi leaves. Other ingredients to consider for such a mask include: amla powder, gram flour, coconut milk, honey, aloe vera gel, ginger juice, neem leaves, etc.

Hibiscus For Digestion

If you suffer from frequent digestive complaints, such as bloating or gas, consider the hibiscus ginger tonic. Both hibiscus and ginger have potent anti-inflammatory properties. Hibiscus is rich in flavonoids, and these have a calming effect on the digestive system.

To prepare the tonic, infuse dried calyces and fresh ginger slices in boiling water. Let it brew for about ten minutes, then strain and pour into a cup. You can sweeten the tonic with sugar or honey, but it has a perfect taste on its own. You can consume this beverage after a hearty meal, to reduce the risk of digestive issues.

Hibiscus tea is popular worldwide and appreciated for its unique taste and beneficial properties. Whether hot or cold, it is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and it can address several serious health issues.

In some countries, they use dried hibiscus not only to make tea but also as an edible delicacy. The flower is a symbol of the Hindu goddess Kali, and women often wear it. Returning to the tea, one last interesting fact. The hibiscus is close related to plants you would expect the least, such as cotton, cacao, kola nut and the durian fruit.

How To Purchase The Best Hibiscus Tea

If you need the best hibiscus tea in your life, make sure you choose a high quality red hibiscus tea. Many hibiscus teas come in small chopped up pieces. The best hibiscus tea is in its natural whole flower form. Also look for organically grown. 

To purchase the best hibiscus tea made from organic and whole flower hibiscus, Life of Cha offers them here.

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