The hibiscus plant has several different forms and the edible plant can be used for hibiscus tea. Hibiscus tea is made from the calyx (outer portion of the flower) of the Hibiscus sabdariffa or roselle species. This plant grows in tropical and sub-tropical climates, needs lots of rain and cannot grow in the shade. Edible portions of the plant include the flowers, leaves, root and seed.
The most widely used part of the hibiscus plant is the calyx. With its bright red color. citric acid and pectin content the plant is also useful in making jams and jellies. Some people roast hibiscus and use it as a coffee substitute.
Hibiscus tea is touted as having many health benefits, including reducing blood pressure, reducing cholesterol, which diminishes the risk of heart disease, and it is said to have an overall cooling effect on the body. Hibiscus is also a natural diuretic. It has been used for hundreds of years as a folk remedy in India and other cultures. In this capacity, hibiscus tea has been used to treat cancer, coughing, fever, hangover, heart disease, dyspepsia, scurvy, kidney problems and neurosis. In some places, it is used as a hair treatment.
Hibiscus tea is free of caffeine and contains a goodly amount of vitamin C. Hibiscus leaves and stems are used in salads or cooked and used as a seasoning. The tea is tart and sour, and many people sweeten it with sugar or honey.
There are many different recipes for hibiscus tea. Different combinations of the following foods and spices are regularly added to improve the taste with which people seem to have a love/hate relationship: ginger, honey, lemon juice, regular tea, rose hips, sugar, strawberries, orange juice, and lime juice.
Should you wish to make your own hibiscus tea, the most basic recipe is just to boil 1 tablespoon of dried hibiscus with each quart of water. Boiling time varies from one minute to three hours, depending on how strong you like it. You may drink the tea either warm or cold.
Another version of hibiscus tea advises you grow your own hibiscus flowers and when it’s time to collect the hibiscus fruit, wash and dry them either outdoors for three days or in an oven. Next, peel off the calyx and store them in containers that are air-tight. You can crush the dried pieces with a wooden roller and then fill a tea bag or little metal tea ball with the amount you wish to use.
Although it will be some time before enough studies are done on hibiscus tea to either prove or disprove it’s medical benefits, you can still enjoy drinking the beverage and you might even be surprised with some pleasant side effects.