Hibiscus Flower Tea (Agua de Jamaica)

in Drinks

Mexican Jamaica

Before moving to Los Angeles I was a total Mexican food amateur. Sure I grew up in a Latin household, but the cuisines of Peru and Colombia couldn’t be more different than what one would eat in Mexico.

My idea of Mexican food was limited to “authentic” burritos and tacos. I assumed it was all the same because for the most part Peruvian food isn’t that varied throughout the country, and the same goes for Colombian food. Those two countries, for the most part, eat mainly the same foods in all regions. But when I moved to LA, I realized how varied Mexican food actually is, and I also realized how awesome it is.

I finally understood the differences between Oaxacan moles, the fish tacos from Baja and the cemitas from Puebla. But one item I see in all Mexican restaurants regardless of region or specialty is agua de jamaica (pronounced: xa’majka – the “j” is silent).

It’s usually chilling in one of those great big tubs next to the other agua frescos like catelope, watermelon and horchata. I always choose the jamaica. Always.

Hibiscus Flower

What you’ll need to start your jamaica making adventure are these beautiful dried hibiscus flowers.

You should get lucky scoring these flowers at most Latin American markets. If you’re LA based, you can go over to The Spice Station and get them by the ounce.

If you’re looking for them without leaving your front door, there’s a seller on Etsy that carries them or you could buy them on Amazon.

I steeped this tea with a cinnamon stick, vanilla sugar and the juice from half of an orange. It was the perfect refresher on a spring day. Or any day, actually.

And if you want to add a few splashes of vodka in the glass, I’m sure that’d be a-ok too.

Hibiscus Flower Tea (Agua de Jamaica)

Print this recipe!

1/2 cup cane or white sugar
1/4 vanilla bean, scraped
3 1/2 cups filtered water
1/2 cup dried hibiscus flowers, plus a few more for garnish
1/2 orange
1 cinnamon stick

1. In a small bowl and using your hands, mix together the vanilla bean caviar and sugar, making sure the vanilla is evenly distributed. Add the vanilla bean sugar and water to a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat.

2. Stir in the hibiscus flowers, juice from 1/2 of an orange and cinnamons stick. Cover the pan and allow the tea to steep for 15-20 minutes and until the mixture is a deep purple(ish)/red(ish) color.

3. Run the tea through a strainer, discarding the tea leaf mixture and transfer the concentrate to the refrigerator to cool. When ready to serve, mix in 1 1/2 cups water to dilute. (Note: I personally liked it slightly diluted; give it a taste and if you don’t, then simply don’t add the water.) Pour over ice, garnish with a few hibiscus flowers, orange slices of lime slices.

Make 5 cups (Serves about 4-5)

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Daniela April 8, 2013 at 1:45 am

This looks like a perfect summer drink!

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cindy April 8, 2013 at 5:24 am

hibiscus tea is the best color! I wish someone would make a lipstick/gloss/stain that matched!

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Adrianna April 8, 2013 at 9:25 am

I love the color my lips turn after drinking this stuff. I’d buy that lip stain!

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Marie @ Little Kitchie April 8, 2013 at 5:26 am

I love hibiscus tea! Beautiful!

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DessertForTwo April 8, 2013 at 5:29 am

I’m obsessed with hibiscus! I make sangria with it! Love it! :)

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Tieghan April 8, 2013 at 5:55 am

So pretty! I want to make this!

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Bev @ Bev Cooks April 8, 2013 at 6:24 am

This is incredible. That little glass, ugh!

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Laura April 8, 2013 at 7:04 am

My hubby is obsessed with this drink. I will have to check out the Spice Station. I adore spices so this may be the place for me.

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dishing up the dirt April 8, 2013 at 8:30 am

what a beautiful drink!

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John April 8, 2013 at 9:06 am

Say: “hah-MIKE-ah”

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Karla @ Foodologie April 8, 2013 at 9:39 am

Looooove Agua de Jamaica. My parents are from Guatemala, and it’s definitely a favorite there too. We keep it simpler: jamaica, water, sugar, cinnamon. But I bet orange and vanilla are a fantastic addition!

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Stu Borken April 8, 2013 at 9:43 am

I did an article on Christmas dinner in Jamaica, and, included in the menu was sorrel tea. Which was not made with sorrel at all but was the hibiscus flower tea in your article. The closest thing we can buy ready make here in the states is Red Zinger Tea by Celestial Seasoning. It’s made with the flowers.

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erin April 8, 2013 at 10:03 am

Thanks for this. I’ve been tinkering for about three years and I never get it quite right.

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June April 8, 2013 at 11:04 am

In Jamaica where I live , we use the same florets but they are called Sorrel. We steep them fresh with ginger whole pimento grains (allspice), whit rum and sweeten with sugar. It is a traditional Christmas drink and not considered a tea, as Stu made mention of as it is served cold over ice cubes. The plant is called sorrel and is from the hibiscus family. The drink is delicious and also good for the body

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heidi April 8, 2013 at 3:48 pm

thanks so much for this recipe! my host mother would make this drink when i was a student in puebla. i loved agua de jamaica and always wondered how it was made!

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Miss Kim @ behgopa April 9, 2013 at 12:44 am

Awesome…I love Mexican food…including fusioned!
Gotta love LA.

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Kait @ ChickadeeSays April 9, 2013 at 8:59 am

This looks incredible. I love hibiscus and this sounds so fresh and refreshing- perfect for spring and summer! I’ve pinned it!

xx Kait

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Katie @ Blonde Ambition April 9, 2013 at 10:27 am

Hibiscus always reminds me of one of my favorite Bath and Body Works lotions from when I was a teenager, haha. But as a drink? Totally grown up.

And I think I would die in that spice store. So many curries and masalas and chiles, oh my!

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Dina April 10, 2013 at 4:07 am

sounds like a refreshing summer drink!

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Bernadette @ Now Stir It Up April 10, 2013 at 11:15 am

This sounds so refreshing. It would be perfect in the middle of summer. :-)

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tina April 10, 2013 at 12:33 pm

never had this but would love. soooo lush and so grown up. i likey :)

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Christy April 10, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Agua de Jamaica is my FAVORITE!!! I order it whenever it is available, but I’ve never thought of making my own.
I’m so hopped up on Claritin-D thanks to all of the pollen we’re Hoovering up here in Atlanta right now. So, it surprises me that I want ANYTHING to do with a flower right now. But, I do. I REALLY DO.
Thank you for this post!

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Adrianna April 10, 2013 at 7:50 pm

In LA we have these terrible things called the “Santa Ana Winds” and they deliver so much dust/pollen. My eyes have been swollen for the past 3 days so I hear you! Luckily these little flowers will cause no sneezing/watery eyes.

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karen April 10, 2013 at 6:04 pm

I’m mexican and my mom would make this growing up as a weight loss drink. I always HATED it! But I haven’t had it since. And I don’t think she flavored it or sweetened it. Maybe I should give it another try :)

Also those glasses are ADORABLEEEEEEEE!!

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ashley - baker by nature April 10, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Love me some flower-licious tea!

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db April 11, 2013 at 10:16 am

adrianna— how far in advance do you think this could be made? i would love to serve this at my wedding this fall, but i think i may need to make it a day or two early. what do you think??

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Adrianna April 11, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Ooooo…this would be a pretty wedding drink. I’d say you’ll be safe with making it 1-2 days in advance. I’m afraid if you make it any earlier it might start to ferment the way iced tea tends to do. :)

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