This weekend, I had the opportunity to witness some of the most beautiful hibiscus flowers I’ve ever seen. It was the Hibiscus Show at the Pinellas Park Auditorium. Enthusiasts and cultivators from all over the State of Florida gathered to pay homage to a flower that rivals even the exquisite rose. Be sure to check out the gallery of some of the best specimens from the show.
The spectacle of it all got me thinking…
I had heard previously that hibiscus flowers can be used for tea. Vaguely, I remember trying a deep, red, cranberry-like tea that was made from the dried red petals of this exotic plant. Sure enough, after a little research, I found out it’s true; you can make your own tea from hibiscus. Not only is the tea a beautiful color, but it’s full of antioxidants as well!
Here are a few pointers for tea-making:
Only the red, blue and purple petals are water-soluble and will infuse nicely into a tea.
You cannot use petals that have ever been sprayed with chemicals.
Gently rinse and then dry out the petals on paper towels. Change the towels as needed if they absorb moisture.
Gently crush the dried petals and keep in a jar until you are ready to make tea.
Use 1 TB dried petals per quart of hot water. Use more or less depending upon the depth of color you want.
Add sugar to the mixture to taste, or allow people to add their own amount of sugar or honey per serving. Like cranberry, it can have an acidic, bitter-berry taste until a sweetener is added.
Much like squash blossoms, the fresh, blooming petals of hibiscus can be used as a garnish in salads, soups, pasta dishes and more. Add a little color to your life and enjoy the miracle of the hearty yet elegant hibiscus.
Elizabeth Dougherty has been a food writer for over 10 years, attended culinary school and holds a Bachelor’s degree, Magna Cum Laude in Hospitality, Business and Labor Relations from NYIT. She has been a talk show host of nearly 150 episodes of Food Nation Radio which airs each Saturday morning at 6 on AM1010 CBS and other stations. You can read her articles and hear previous shows on her podcast page at http://elizabethdougherty.com