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What is Hibiscus Tisane and why is it healthy?

Hibiscus Flower
Hibiscus Flower

With the velvety red petals feeling so gentle, and the long beautiful style with delicate tiny stigma, comes the lovely flower of hibiscus which never stops delighting us.

Just like this beautiful description of the hibiscus flower in one sentence, Hibiscus "Tea" is in some circles considered one of the tastiest and the most beneficial beverages in the world. Contrary to the common misnomer, it is not a "Tea" but a Tisane, i.e. it is a Herbal beverage but not from the Camellia Sinensis tea plant.

The many health benefits of hibiscus tisane make it a very healthy and nutritious drink. In this article, we will explore everything about hibiscus tea. After all, you need to know them so that the next time you drink a hibiscus tisane, you’ll be well aware of how it is going to benefit you.

So, before talking about hibiscus tisane, let’s shed some light on the beautiful hibiscus flower and the plant.

Hibiscus flower

Hibiscus tisane
Hibiscus tisane

Well, the most important information first. Hibiscus is the flowering plant which has more than hundreds of species which are native to tropical and subtropical regions with warm temperature all over the world.

This hibiscus flower comes in two types. First one is Hibiscus Sadariffa which is used for making hibiscus tisane and the second one is Hibiscus Ascetosella which is just a red flowering plant used for decoration and is without a medicinal usage. So, it’s important to understand this differentiation to avoid drinking the wrong hibiscus flower.

The Hibiscus Sabdariffa has its origin in Africa and it is a shrub type of plant. Hibiscus Sabdariffa is also known as Roselle.

Now, let’s talk about hibiscus tisane which is our topic today.

Hibiscus tisane

Hibiscus tisane
Hibiscus tisane

The herbal drink made from hibiscus flowers is simply known as the hibiscus tisane. The liquor is red in color, has a sour / tart flavor, and contains vitamin C and minerals.

The hibiscus tisane is made from the calyces (sepals) of this plant which are bright in color and sour in taste. Because of this, the liquor also turns out to be red in color and sour and tangy in taste like the cranberry juice. People across the globe have different preferences of how they have their hibiscus tisane; few prefer it to be hot while others prefer it to be cold.

Let’s check out in detail about the composition of hibiscus tea.

Hibiscus tisane is that unique beverage which contains about 15 to 30 percent organic acids in it which includes:

  1. Citric acid,
  2. Malic acid, and
  3. Tartaric acid

The deep red color of the hibiscus tisane is because of the compounds like acidic poly-saccharides and flavonoid glycosides, such as cyanidin and delphinidin.

The Popularity of Hibiscus tea

Popularity of hibiscus tisane
Popularity of hibiscus tisane

Hibiscus tisane is known by various names in different languages and in different regions.

  • Roselle – By the name of the flower
  • Agua de Jamaica /Rosa de Jamacia or Jamaica – United States, Mexico, and Central America
  • Rosella – Australia
  • Sorrel – Jamaica, Belize, Barbados, Guyana, Dominica, Trinidad, and Tobago
  • Saril - Panama
  • Red Sorrel – Caribbean
  • Zobo or Bissap – African countries like Nigeria
  • Gul-e-Khatmi – Urdu and Persian
  • Gudhal – Hindi
  • Soobolo – Ghana
  • Karkade – Egypt, Sudan, and the Arabic world

You’ll be surprised to know how popular hibiscus tisane is in all these places is. People in different places drink it in their own ways. Let’s have a glimpse of it.

  • America: This is one of the most famous inexpensive drinks which is made of fresh juice or extract of the hibiscus flower. Americans usually prepare it by steeping the calyces, along with ginger in boiling water. They strain the mixture, add sugar, clove, cinnamon, and a little rum in it. They refrigerate it and serve it chilled. It’s a traditional drink during Christmas and Chinese New Year which they serve with cake or potato pudding. In California and other areas which are influenced by Mexican customs, dried hibiscus calyces which are also known as flor de Jamaica are generally available in health food stores. It is used to make hibiscus tea at home. It is considered as a mild natural diuretic. For those who love to chill out with a pint of beer, the Caribbean Development Company, a Trinidad and Tobago brewery, produces a Sorrel Shandy in which the hibiscus tea is combined with beer.
  • Africa: Karkade which is the African version of hibiscus tisane is served hot or chilled with ice. It is quite popular in Egypt and Sudan. It is prepared by soaking the calyces in cold water for a few days and then straining the resultant liquid. In these countries, traditional wedding celebrations are toasted with a glass of hibiscus tisane. In most of the streets in central Cairo, you can find many vendors and open-air cafes that sell this typical hibiscus tisane. You can even find dried flowers in the market to prepare it at home. Various fusions of hibiscus tisane are famous in African regions like Bissap is known as the national drink of Senegal, Wanjo in the Gambia, Debileni in Mali, Sobolo in Ghana, and Zobo or Tsobo in Nigeria. In most of the places, it is flavored with mint or ginger.
  • East Asia: In Thailand, Roselle (hibiscus tea) is prepared as a cold drink which is highly sweetened like the fruit juices. In Malaysia and Indonesia, hibiscus tea is combined with Chinese tea leaves in the ratio of 1:4 to prepare a wine with a distinct taste.
  • Europe: In Italy, hibiscus tea is known as carcadè or Italian tea and is usually drunk hot. Sugar and lemon juice are added to it. Initially, it got famous as the substitute of tea when the country faced trade sanctions for its invasion of Abyssinia. In other European countries, it is used as an ingredient in their herbal tisane. Now when we have seen that hibiscus tisane is so popular all over the world, are not you wondering what makes is so popular? Let’s see what are the reasons that people love it so much.

Benefits of Hibiscus Tisane

Benefits of hibiscus tisane
Benefits of hibiscus tisane

Hibiscus tisane is not only good for your taste buds but also is full of so many health benefits. We will tell you all the benefits which makes it a very healthy drink.

  • Rich in Vitamin C: Hibiscus tea is one of the prime sources of vitamin C. It is necessary for keeping your immune system in a perfect condition to avoid any viral infections and other diseases caused due to lack of vitamin C.
  • Lowers Cholesterol Levels: Nowadays, an unhealthy lifestyle which includes poor food habits and doing no physical workout is causing a serious health issue of cholesterol i.e. increasing level of LDL-Cholesterol. Hibiscus tea can significantly help in lowering LDL (the bad cholesterol) in the body because of the high level of antioxidants in it. This helps in reducing the risk of heart attacks, strokes, or any other cardiovascular diseases.
  • Prevents Hypertension: Hibiscus tea works amazingly in lowering your high blood pressure. It effectively reduces the risk of hypertension. Clinical studies have proved that if you’ll consume three cups of hibiscus tea every day for a few weeks, it will lower the chances of hypertension. It is rich in anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties and hence helps in reducing the high blood pressure.
  • Lowers blood sugar levels: Diabetes is one of the most dangerous diseases causing deaths all over the world. Hibiscus tea is an effective home remedy for people suffering from Type-II diabetes. It has hypolipidemic and hypoglycemic properties which help in bringing down the blood sugar level.
  • Relaxes in Menstrual Cramps: No one can estimate the pain of those monthly menstrual cramps than the one who suffers. But hibiscus tea is quite beneficial to help soothe those pain and provide instant relief. It balances your hormones, reduces the cramps, and eases your mood swings.
  • Helps Liver Function Better: The liver is a vital organ in our body which detoxifies various metabolites, synthesizes proteins, and produces biochemicals necessary for digestion. Any disturbance in the smooth functioning of the liver can cause serious health troubles. But the antioxidants present in the hibiscus tea neutralize free radicals in body cells and tissues and protect our liver.
  • Improves Digestion: For those who are suffering from digestion related issues, Hibiscus tea can be an excellent home remedy to improve the functioning of their bowel and bladder because of its diuretic properties which assist in improving urination and brings bowel movement to the normal level. This tea also cures constipation and improves the complete gastrointestinal system of your body.
  • Reduces Weight: When it comes to reducing your weight, you might have tried a lot of drinks which claim to do magic. But most of the drinks are ineffective and full of caffeine. But this hibiscus tea is a really good substitute for those drinks as it is free of caffeine and helps in shedding your extra kilos. It lowers the absorption process of starch and glucose in your body which helps in losing your extra weight.
  • Helps Fight with Depression: Depression is a very serious state of mind which affects your mental and physical health. Because of the increase in stress and other mental worries, people of all age groups are tended to suffer from depression. Hibiscus tea can help those people to fight depression as it contains flavonoids that have antidepressant properties to fight depression. It calms your nervous system in a smooth way and reduces the anxiety attacks by making you relaxed.
  • Cools down the body: Hibiscus tea is not only effective in quenching your thirst but also provides an instant cooling effect to your body. Because of this property, it is quite popular with sportspersons. It helps in flushing all the harmful toxins out of your body.
  • Prevents Aging: Who doesn’t want to stay young forever? Of course, you cannot stop aging but with the help of hibiscus tea, you can slow down this process up to an extent. Antioxidants in this tea help in fighting the visible signs of aging on your face which includes loss of moisture, elasticity, and wrinkles.
  • Has Laxative Effects: Hibiscus tea is therapeutic when you feel bloated up because of its mild laxative properties.
  • Chemo-Preventive: Hibiscus tea has been found to be effective in fighting cancer. It has components which have chemo-preventive and tumor-fighting properties. The anti-inflammatory active ingredients help in controlling the spread of tumors.
  • Vermifuge / Antibacterial: The extract of hibiscus contains antibacterial properties on which researches are going on. You can try to drink hibiscus tea whenever you get a wound to get it healed faster.
  • A Perfect All Seasons Drink: This special drink is a great substitute for all those carbonated soft drinks in summers and caffeinated drinks during winters. You can have it throughout the year.

Side Effects of Hibiscus Tisane

Side effects of hibiscus tisane
Side effects of hibiscus tisane

With so many health benefits, hibiscus tisane is one of the healthiest drinks. But it has a couple of side effects too which are mentioned below.

  • Affects Fertility: Due to the reason that hibiscus tisane lowers down the estrogen level, it directly affects the reproductive ability. It can cause serious complications if you are planning a child. Hence you should avoid having hibiscus tisane if you are pregnant or wanting to get pregnant.
  • Estrogen Reduction: As per a recent study, hibiscus tea can bring down your estrogen levels. For all those who are using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or are on any kind of birth control treatment, you should avoid consuming hibiscus tisane.
  • Complicates Cancer Treatment: If you are going through chemotherapy or radiations, avoid hibiscus tea as it can create complications in the treatment if taken along with the medication. It affects the cancerous cells in the skin and brain and hence should be avoided.
  • Lowers Blood Pressure: For all those who are on blood pressure lowering medication, or suffering from low blood pressure or hypertension, it is advised to avoid consuming hibiscus tisane. The blood pressure lowering, and diuretic properties of hibiscus tisane may cause an expansion in the blood vessel and can cause serious health issues.
  • Causes Hallucinogenic Effects: Hibiscus tisane makes people feel light headed and even intoxicated. It can even have hallucinogenic effects. Hence be careful about your activities when you consume hibiscus tisane.

How to prepare hibiscus tisane

Well, we have discussed a lot about the benefits and side effects of hibiscus tisane. Now let’s see how to prepare hibiscus tisane; hot as well as cold.

Hot hibiscus tisane

Hot hibiscus tisane
Hot hibiscus tisane

Hot hibiscus tisane provides so many health benefits apart from soothing your throat. Here is the recipe to prepare it

Ingredients:

  • Dried hibiscus calyces – 2 teaspoons
  • Boiling water – 1 cup
  • Sweetener (honey or brown sugar) – As per your taste
  • Other flavors (cinnamon, mint) — Optional for enhancing the taste

Directions:

  • Add dried hibiscus to the boiling water in a teapot
  • Add the flavors if you want and let it brew for 5-10 minutes
  • Strain the tea into the cup and add sweetener as per your taste
  • Serve hot

Hibiscus iced tisane

Hibiscus iced tisane
Hibiscus iced tisane

One of the best ways to quench your thirst in the summers is to have chilled hibiscus iced tea. Here is the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • Dried hibiscus calyces – ½ cup
  • Chilled water - 4 cups
  • Ice cubes - 3-4
  • Sugar syrup - to taste

Directions:

  • Add hibiscus to the chilled water and mix well. Refrigerate the mixture for 12-14 hours
  • Strain it and pour in the glasses
  • Add ice and sweetener to it. Your hibiscus iced tea is ready

So, are you going to have hot or cold hibiscus tea today? Do share your experience in the comments below.

While we at teakruthi are tea purists and we don't drink or sell any tisanes, we do have various other types of 100% Pure Ceylon teas available for sale at teakruthi.

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