Agua Fresca – Jamaica (Hibiscus Flower Tea)

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.

Ingredients:

  • 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.

22 Comments

  1. First time I tried hibiscus flower tea was in Cairo. The family that I stayed with insisted that I try it after they made a big batch of it. I found it to be so tasty and refreshing on a hot day. Yum!

  2. This looks so refreshing and delicious! I’m going to have to find some dried hibiscus flowers here in NYC…they’ve got to be around here somewhere!

  3. roy4comcam

    Thank you for posting this. Jamaica (hah-my-kah) is the unsung hero of refreshing drinks! My dear sweet Nicaraguan grandmother (RIP) used to send me bags and bags of the leaves when I lived in the Netherlands. It has a low volume to weight ratio so it’s inexpensive to ship. It’s the sugar that makes it. I sweeten just enough to kill the bitterness. Great photos as always.

    • I wonder how many people read this post as Jamaica, like the country. Haha. I read it with the Spanish pronounciation so it didn’t even occur to me, lol.

  4. Me encantan tus fotos! Also one of my favorite Mexican drinks. In general their fruit waters have me in awe, such great, tasty and healthy drinks! You have to try “Agua de Chia” (Agua de Limón con Chia Seeds), you’ll love it. Just try to find Chia seeds at your market. Do you already know if you’ll stay all year in Mexico or will you start traveling later on? How’s little Stella doing?
    Kisses from Mexico City!

    • We are renting this house for the full year, so the dogs will stay, but we’re planning on heading to Asia to work on Mandarin in Sept. We’ll be back after Christmas! Stella is great, she’s plumping up! Everyone calls her gordita! 🙂

  5. Interestingly enough, I saw you mention this tea the other day when I had just watched an old episode of Mexico: One Plate at a Time with Rick Bayless and he was making jamaica sorbet. Looks refreshing for a hot day.

    • Ooh I should try to find those, I like Rick Bayless from other stuff and I’m sure I would LOVE anything about food in Mexico.

  6. I love agua de jamaica too! Funnily enough I haven’t made it at home yet, so I will now be purchasing one of those big bags of dried hibiscus. A few years ago at a cooking class in Bali they made it with fresh petals, have you tried that? It seems you have them in supply!

  7. It looks beautiful! And I love cranberry juice, I’ll have to see if I can find this somewhere.

  8. Ah yes, hibiscus tea – deeeee-lish! I first discovered it in Egypt – indeed even toted home a half kilo of the dried blossoms so I could make it in Seattle (when I still lived there).

    Hmmm… come to think of it – probably against USDA “do you have any agricultural products to declare” regulations. Oh well.

    • Hmm Egypt! I have to go back there… I totally missed out on a lot of things (we were totally burned out last time).

    • I like it a lot too. I’ve been told there’s horchata powder mix in the grocery story but I haven’t seen it yet.

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  11. Lovely pix. I adore jamaica (and naranjada & limonada) but only indulge if we’re out for tacos. Today my daughter ordered a raspberry agua, which was absolutely delightful.

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