Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Hibiscus Tea


 Flor de jamaica - Rosa de jamaica - Te de jamaica - Frozen de jamaica...

Jamaica (pronounced huh-my-kuh) means "hibiscus,"

However it is written on the menu, I order it.  Hot. Cold. Frozen.  You can order it by the pitcher at Pizza Hut and Pollo Campero.  At fancy restaurants it is served in big goblets, and with its deep red color you might mistake it for a glass of robust burgundy.

You can buy jamaica at the Super - crushed in tea bags or as whole dried flowers in big plastic bags.  You can often find the dried flowers in small markets and artisan shops.  I almost always have a pitcher of it in my fridge.

Nutritionally speaking, hibiscus tea contains important vitamins and minerals (A, B1, C, E and iron).  Salvadoran grandmothers will tell you it is good for your kidneys, digestion, your liver and helps to lower your blood pressure.  These are important health benefits, but I drink it because I like it.  I recently added a new twist to my hibiscus tea after I made boiled plantains.  I think my grandma would be very proud of me for this excellent use of resources. In the US, Rosa or Flor de Jamaica is available at markets that feature foods from Latina cultures.  Many supermarkets also carry the flowers or tea bags.

Boiled Plantains with Cinnamon
Fill a pot with water, enough so your plantains, once cut, can swim around freely.
Add one large or two small sticks of cinnamon.
Bring water to a boil.
Peel and cut 1-3 large plantains cross-ways into chunks about 1 1/2" long.
Drop the plantain chunks into the water.  Boil until very tender, but not so long that they lose their shape.
Scoop the plantains out of the water, and enjoy eating them!  Sprinkle a touch of brown sugar or raw sugar over them if they are not sweet enough for your taste.
Save the water, and let it cool.

Hibiscus Tea
Place about 1 cup (2 handfuls) rosas de jamaica (hibiscus roses/hibiscus flowers) in a glass jar that has a tight-fitting lid (1.5 liters)  Add a few extra if your jar is bigger.
(To make this with tea bags, toss about 8-10 tea bags into the jar, depending on the size.)
Pour the cooled plantain liquid with cinnamon into the jar.
Add water until the jar is full.  Put on the lid.





Set the jar out in a sunny spot.  (I put mine out in the morning before I head out for the day, and take it in at night when I get back.  A couple of hours in the sun should be sufficient - in El Salvador, anyway.)

I usually enjoy my first cup warm.  If the tea seems too tart for your taste, add sugar to the whole batch while it is warm.  I do not add any extra sugar to mine.

You can strain the tea, but I find it easier just to dump the tea, flowers and cinnamon all into a plastic pitcher that has a lid with a little strainer, and just pop the whole thing into the fridge.

Chill.  The tea keeps fine for a week, probably longer, but I always drink it up in a few days.  If the tea is too strong add a little ice or cold water.
Enjoy!


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