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As many of you know, my website was destroyed in early March 2017. It is going to take me some time, as I am a one-man-band, to put this all back together, but I am working on it when I can and I hope to have this all back in place within a matter of weeks, not months. But, as always, I am a creature of hope. I am currently rebuilding this page, so don't be surprised that links don't work yet! You can always click on the header image to get back home.
Agua di Jamaica (Iced Hibiscus)
Enjoyed around the world, this wonderful hot-weather beverage is also known as karkadι or sorrel, among other names. This is one of the best summertime drinks ever - tart, refreshing, energizing, and some claim that it helps the body deal with heat and humidity more efficiently. Very tart, very fruity, full of vitamins, and caffeine-free but still quite invigorating.
- Hibiscus is powerfully colored and can stain cloth, metal, or plastic. Therefore:
- when cooking, wear an apron, or clothes you don't care very much about
- use metal pots
- use glass jugs or bottles
- be seriously careful about not spilling your drink
- There are two points in this process (Steps 4 and 7) that may be difficult alone. If possible, getting a partner or two to help you would be an excellent idea - their total work will only be a few minutes out of the entire process.
- 4 oz. (113g) hibiscus
- 1 cup sugar
- 96 oz. (3 quarts) cold, clean water
- about 2½ hours
- one very large pot, with a cover, for boiling 3 quarts of water
- another large pot, big enough to hold 2 quarts of tea
- a good large wooden spoon, or similar tool, for stirring the large pot
- a large strainer or fine colander - we'll use this once to rinse the hibiscus, and again to strain the tisane, so the finer the mesh, the better
- In the large pot, bring the water to a full rolling boil.
- Add the sugar and stir until completely dissolved (when you can't see it any more).
- Rinse the hibiscus with warm water for 10-15 seconds, then add to the boiling water.
- Stir the hibiscus into the water and continue stirring, vigorously, for 10 full minutes without stopping. Don't just stir in a circle, you're trying to fully infuse the flowers, so figure-8 and complicated patterns are good.
- After 10 minutes of stirring, turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let it rest undisturbed for 2 hours.
- Uncover, and stir the tisane thoroughly for 2 minutes.
- Using a second pot or container, and a fine strainer, thoroughly strain the tisane to remove all the flowers. (This step can be quite difficult - carefully handling several quarts of hot hibiscus can be dangerous. It is easiest to scoop out the tisane using a smaller vessel and pouring through the strainer into another pot, rather than trying to pour the whole large pot through the strainer.)
- Store your agua di jamaica in a glass vessel and keep refrigerated. When serving, fill one's glass halfway with ice - the tisane is very strong and the melting ice will dilute it properly. Enjoy!