Agua fresca is one of my favorite things about Mexico. It’s basically flavored water and you find it everywhere. There’s a rice version (they’ll just call it arroz for short) that has a little cinnamon in it, you’ll find tamarind versions, cucumber and pineapple versions, but my absolute favorite is Jamaica.
If you’ve never tasted Hibiscus tea before, it’s almost like cranberry juice but lighter and a little tart. It’s packed with vitamin C and it’s a natural diuretic, there’s all kinds of studies on the health benefits, but I just like it for how it tastes.
They sell big bags of dried hibiscus flowers in the grocery store, but if you’re not in Mexico, you might be able to find Jamaica tea bags (I believe Lipton’s makes them, we used them in Guatemala).
The recipe is really easy, but I just eye-ball it.
- 2 quarts water
- 3/4 to 1 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you would like it to be)
- 1 cup dried hibiscus flowers
- lime slices
Some places add cinnamon or ginger, but I just like a slice of lime. Really you can just grab a handful, about this much:
Or pour it into your pitcher until it covers the bottom:
Then fill it up with boiling water:
Let it steep for five minutes, strain out the flowers, mix in the sugar and serve, over ice, with your lime, on a beautiful day (or at least it will feel that way):
Almost all of my memories of Puerto Vallarta are tied up in this drink, I love it, and every time we go to the beach we get some. I was on a personal crusade to convince everyone back home to try this, but then I heard a rumor that Panera Bread is introducing hibiscus iced tea this summer. To which I say: aha! my work is done.