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Agua di Jamaica

Hibiscus

Iced hibiscus tea is enjoyed around the world for its incredible refreshment and high nutritional value. This wonderful hot-weather beverage is also known as kharkady, karkadé or sorrel, among other names.  Tart, refreshing, energizing, and for many, helps the body deal with heat and humidity more efficiently. Very tart, very fruity, full of vitamins — caffeine-free but still quite invigorating.

Note: Hibiscus is powerfully colored and can stain cloth, metal, or plastic. Therefore…

  • when cooking, wear an apron, or clothes you don’t care very much about
  • use metal pots
  • use glass jugs or bottles
  • do not spill your drink, or drink around things you don’t care very much about

Tools

  • one very large pot, with a cover, for boiling 3 quarts of water
  • another large pot, big enough to hold 2 quarts of tea
  • a good large wooden spoon, or similar tool for stirring the large pot
  • a large strainer or fine colander — we’ll use this once to rinse the hibiscus, and again to strain the liquid, so the finer the mesh, the better

Agua di Jamaica

Iced hibiscus tea. Must have two large pots and a fine strainer or filter.
Course Beverage
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings 2 quarts

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces hibiscus (4 oz. = 113 grams)
  • 1 cup sugar (or honey, or agave, or sweetener of your choice)
  • 96 ounces water (96 oz. = 3 quarts)

Instructions

  • In the large pot, bring the water to a full rolling boil.
  • Add the sugar and stir until completely dissolved (when you can’t see it any more).
  • Rinse the hibiscus with warm water for 10-15 seconds, then add to the boiling water.
  • Stir the hibiscus into the water and continue stirring, vigorously, for 10 full minutes without stopping. Don’t just stir in a circle, you’re trying to fully infuse the flowers, so figure-8 and complicated patterns are good.
  • After 10 minutes of stirring, turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let it rest undisturbed for 2 hours.
  • Uncover, and stir the tisane thoroughly for 2 minutes.
  • Using a second pot or container, and a fine strainer, thoroughly strain the tisane to remove all the flowers. (This step can be quite difficult — carefully handling several quarts of hot hibiscus can be dangerous. It is easiest to scoop out the tisane using a smaller vessel and pouring through the strainer into another pot, rather than trying to pour the whole large pot through the strainer.)
  • Store your agua di jamaica in a glass vessel and keep refrigerated. When serving, fill one’s glass halfway with ice — the tisane is very strong and the melting ice will dilute it properly. Enjoy!

Notes

There are two points in this process (Steps 4 and 7) that may be difficult alone. If possible, getting a partner or two to help you would be an excellent idea — their total work will only be a few minutes out of the entire process.
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