On any given day in Guadalajara, you can take a refreshing pit stop at any number of street carts or taco stands selling Aguas Frescas. And when its blisteringly hot like it’s been lately, a pit stop and some shade are absolutely necessary.
Aguas Frescas are non-alcoholic, water-based drinks flavored with fruit, tea, rice… anything under the sun. They are brilliant in color and sold in massive containers filled with ice, thus luring any thirsty passerby for a drink. And they are sooo good. One of my favorites though, is Agua de Jamaica, or Sweetened Hibiscus Tea. This recipe for Agua de Jamaica is super easy, cheap, incredibly refreshing and of course brimming with health benefits.
A note on Hibiscus:
The hibiscus plant, with it’s vibrant crimson petals, is indigenous to Africa and was first brought to Mexico during the colonial period. The plant has ever since thrived here in the tropical and semi-tropical zones of Mexico and is an integral ingredient in the Mexican kitchen. Hibiscus tea, hot or cold, boasts crazy high levels of Vitamin C and antioxidants, but is also regarded as an appetite suppressant, diuretic, hangover reliever, and circulation booster. Some studies have also shown that hibiscus tea has the potential to lower blood pressure. With a health profile like that, how can you not try it out? (Source: herbcompanion.com)
I’ve always loved hibiscus tea hot after lunch because of it’s deep color, aroma, and tartness, but I think the cold version has taken over as head honcho. In this easy recipe, I use agave nectar as a sweetener as to avoid any unnecessary processed sugar. (More on agave nectar here ). Hibiscus tea leaves can easily be found in bulk at smaller, ethnic groceries. They’re probably over by the dried peppers and spices, so just poke around and save a bundle.
4 C water
1 C hibiscus leaves
Juice of 2 limes
Agave Nectar to taste
Bring water to a boil and steep leaves, stirring, for 4 minutes. Strain leaves, add agave and lime, and chill. (Also, be careful because hibiscus tea can stain just about anything.) Exquisite over ice, mixed with mineral water, or used as a mixer for vodka drinks. Mmmmm… now go get on that porch and enjoy a glass!