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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
Iced hibiscus tea. Must have two large pots and a fine strainer or filter.
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Iced Tea

In my personal and professional opinion, the proper way to make iced tea is by cold steeping.  Making hot tea and cooling it down will nearly always warp the tea’s flavors, lose much of its sweetness and bright aromatic notes, and result in a cloudy astringent drink that is anything but refreshing — this is why most iced tea will use a traditional cheat, such as baking soda or boiling water, or be heavily sweetened.  To me, iced tea must be, above all, refreshing.  Cold steeping is the best way to achieve that.

Note: Unlike bottled iced tea, homemade iced tea has no chemicals in it to keep it fresh for an unnatural amount of time.  You should drink your tea within 2-3 days.  Never continue to drink tea that develops an “off” flavor or exhibits any bacterial growth (a visible thin film on the surface of the tea)