Agua de Jamaica Infatuation

You know about my horchata cravings, but now that summer is less than a week away, I think I should introduce you to my latest infatuation: none other than la agua fresca de la flor de jamaica (Hibiscus Flower Tea) one of the many, and, need I say, most stunning of Mexico's delicious aguas frescas, natural drinks made from fruit and other ingredients. Once you gaze into this brilliant garnet-hued drink and taste its dark cranberry and herbal green flavor, refreshingly astringent but sweet, you will know why the dried seedpod and sepals of "The Flower of Jamaica", as Mexicans call it, is, in its various recipes, from jelly to wine and more, especially loved from Mexico and Central America to Thailand to India to Iraq to Turkey to Sudan to Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean and back to Mexico again. I guess you can call it an around-the-world favorite.

Ha! And you thought that it was just some ordinary tart drink at your local taco shop.

Among its purported benefits, agua de jamaica helps reduce fevers, is mildly diuretic and lowers blood pressure. Some say that it reduces blood sugar, helps digestive and kidney function, relieves neurosis (my ailment, for sure), and, according one study, even reduces drunkenness in chickens (now who funded that? And, why didn't we know this that back in the day when my papá was getting our roosters drunk on cheap tequila?)

I don't know if all of those claims are true. All I know is that it tastes cool and refreshing on a long hot summer's day, especially when I fiddle with the recipe and add the freshly squeezed juice of an orange and a touch of lime peel. Adding a little rum and nutmeg to this blend, Jamaican style, only adds to the excitement of serving this to my paisanos--most who are Mexican food puristas like me. I have a sneaky suspicion that once they get over their initial shock it will be bottoms up. Now that my cooking laziness is coming to an end, what with chayote salad with roasted chiles and tomatoes and piña colada paletas (popsicles) and other goodies coming around the bend this summer, I think that some freshly brewed agua de jamaica will be not just my infatuation, but my constant companion.

¡Que viva el verano!—Let the summer begin!

Agua Fresca de la Flor de Jamaica
(Hibiscus Flower Tea)

You don't have to add sugar if you don't want to. Feel free to add your favorite no calorie sweetener like stevia. I like to drink mine straight with no sugar and tons of ice. Too tart for some, but perfect for me. This drink is served year round, so feel free to serve it anytime, and not just with Mexican food. If this drink is too tart for you, just add more water and sugar to taste.

Ingredients:½ to 1 cup of dried jamaica flowers (available in Mexican markets, health food stores or online)
1 cup cane sugar, or, your favorite sweetener
6 cups water—divided

In a medium-sized pot, bring 3 cups of the water, jamaica flowers and the sugar to a boil. Using a wooden spoon, stir the pot to dissolve the sugar. Cover and lower the heat to low. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Add the remaining 3 cups of water into the pot. Strain out the flowers and let the agua de jamaica cool off. Pour the agua de jamaica into a pitcher and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. When ready to serve, poor la agua de jamaica into tall glasses. Garnish with an orange slice if desired.

Serves 4 to 6 persons.


Juju said...

This sounds amazing!

julie said...

I love this drink-I think I will try to make it!

Clementina aka "La Traductora" said...

Hola Juju and Julie,
Remember to make this the night before so it can be nice and cold when it is blazing hot outside.
Thanks for visiting!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic drink, I would love one right now!

Nancy said...

I am making this right now, thank you so much for the recipe.

I love your blog, you always inspire me to make something good, thank you!

Clementina aka "La Traductora" said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clementina aka "La Traductora" said...

Hola Nancy--
I took a look at your blog, and I must say that your life there seems serene and utterly carefree. When I was a girl, my father took my sister and me for a horse and buggy ride around the Mazatlan, The town was old fashioned and beautiful, the view of the ocean breathtaking. That was a long time ago, but it was magical.
Gracias for being back the memory.
Regresare un dia de estos.
Thanks for visiting!

A.D said...

I AM SO HUNGRY! Thank you for sharing, I was wondering if I could share this blog on my site please drop an email if your answer is SI everyday . m . moms@

Lisa Renata said...

Boy do I love agua de Jamaica! I just made a pot last week and have a jug waiting for me in the fridge. Riquisimo. Now I definetely need to try it with some lime peel or orange. I never even thought of combining it with something else. Thanks for the great ideas. BTW I love mine with mucha, pero mucha AZUCAR!

Lisa Renata said...

I just saw your comment to Nancy. So you've been to Mazatlan? My mom is from there. We went often as a child and even lived there one year. I loved it so much I did not want to come back. Bummer! It's been a while since I've been back and my extended familia and friends (that live there) are constantly asking me to visit. I so want to. Pronto, pronto!

Clementina aka "La Traductora" said...

Hola Lisa Renata,
Wow, lived in Mazatlan for a whole year? Que afortunada!

Grace said...

what a unique and tasty beverage! it's no surprise that this is a popular refreshment, and i'm pretty sure i need to try it for myself immediately! thanks for the introduction. :)

foodcreate said...

Fabolous :Drink I would love to try it !
Thanks for sharing your Drink Recipe!

Join , Post your Comments!

And you can visit me if I can visit you:)

Have a Wonderful Day!

Clementina aka "La Traductora" said...

Gracias, Foodcreate,
I'm glad you liked the recipe!

kobico said...

Your recipe sounds much tastier than the powdered mix from the corner tienda!

Clementina aka "La Traductora" said...

Hola Kobico!
The "corner tienda"? Wow, you've got the lingo down pat--especially for une fille qui habite en France! I don't think they call it "flor de jamaica" in France. If I am not mistaken, I think it is called "roselle", n'est-ce pas?
Gracias for visiting!

Leslie Limon said...

I saw the message you left on my blog and decided to check out your blog. Unfortunately, I looked at the one in Spanish. A couple of weeks later, I decided to take another look, and chose the English blog. Very nice! Soy tu fan!

kobico said...

"Wow, you've got the lingo down pat--especially for une fille qui habite en France!"

I'm actually a California kid, born and raised, and still have my home in San Mateo. I just move a lot!

Anonymous said...

You sure are one intelligent person I'd love too meet - very impressive!

Your recipe (IMO) calls for too many dried calyxes of Flor de Jamaica compared to us here in Monterrey. They are expensive, about 100 pesos per kilogram. I use 40 grams to the gallon (actually 4 liters). It becomes nice cranberry red and very tart. In my gallon, I also put in 40 grams of sugar. That comes out to under 9 calories per cup (200 mL). About one tenth of the same amount of Coca-Cola. The gallon has 4 pesos of Flor de Jamaica, and seven pesos of water and 40 centavos of sugar. Total= MX$11.40 per gallon (about US$0.86/gal)- about one third the price of coca-cola here. What a deal for something healthy!

Stevia - now you are the first person I know who has mentioned that to me (well, that I read) in years! Wow!

Clementina said...

Hola, Anonymous!
I'm afraid that my Zacatecas-born madrecita would have agreed with you. I have to admit, I DO love a super tart drink. that's what I love about Mexican food. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, "The beauty of Mexican food lies in its flexibility. Measurements need not be precise." If we ever do meet, I promise to water down the drink!
Wow, you're the one who's smart--love the calculations you made.

Allende! said...

Hola Clementina

Today I went to our local foreign import grocery store,, and I bummed around looking for new ideas for something to make to eat. Sadly, the selection has dwindled in recent years as supermarkets improve and marginalize this formerly super place. But I saw a small jar of Stevia! For the 2nd time in 10 years - first was your blog a few days ago.

Thanks for the kind comments. I'm on your madrecita's side. It is hard in today's world to avoid the craze of sugaring down everything. The average Mexican drinks so many sodapops than a US counterpart that most people need to overload their sugar to have any drink agree with them and forget just how good water is. You are a rare person indeed who drinks her Flor de Jamaica straight up:-) The tartiness you like does taste great, I couldn't agree more, but like strong lemonade, and tamarind pods, it is a good idea to rinse one's mouth out carefully afterwards since the acids can be damaging to enamel for prolonged use.

In my defense (and of a good portion of abuelitas out there) I like that 40 gram amount per gallon of water (1 cup of Flor de Jamaica dry calyces per gallon, about one fifth what you use) because the acidity doesn't mask the floral flavor and require too much sugar, and seems IMHO to blend perfectly with the aroma if well prepared...yet the liquid is still deep cranberry red. It truly tastes like I am drinking flowers, which is not for everybody, since flowers don't taste like sugar...nor sweet tarts, or even your delicious variety which packs the most antioxidants. Also I drink so much of it (far more than your above average person, I do worry about the long term effects, which haven't been carefully studied...)

I look forward to my "watered down" Flor de Jamaica some time! Saludos from Monterrey (no longer anonymous)

Clementina said...

Hola, Allende!
In view of your most excellent comments, and, figuring that two knowledgeable people (you and my madrecita) cannot be wrong, I have decided to reduce the amount of jamaica calyxes in my recipe.
Of course, you are right about acidic drinks wearing down the enamel of one's teeth, but the real clincher for me was when you stated that it is important to taste the FLOWER (and not just the tartness)!
Gracias por la sugerencia!

claudia said...

Tomo agua de jamaica desde que soy niña1 Es tan refrescante y deliciosa. Yo compro las flores secas, las hiervo, endulzo y a la refrigeradora un par de horas y a disfrutarla. A mi hijo (super picky eater) le fascina!

Meli D. said...


I love this, to be quite honesta :DD

And I can't believe that I found your blog off of Google Images while finding a good image to show a friend about/over this EPICUS DRINK :3
(Epic win drink, haha ^_______^)

And.....OHMYGOSH xD I'm following your blog, like now!

(Sorry if I tend to sound a bit like a Fressita xDDD I'm just uber/super excited to have found a blog about Mexican cuisine!!!! :B x] ♥)

Great post, by the way :D