It has been a snowy weekend here in Boston. I’ve had two back-to-back snow days, which have resulted in a four-day weekend for me! As a teacher, I have mixed feelings about snow days. On the one hand, they’re like surprise holidays! On the other hand, I always fall into what my husband calls the Law of Snow Days: the more time you have, the more time you waste. More often than not, I will procrastinate and take the entire day off, which is great for my mental health (maybe), but bad for my work ethic. As the day closes, I find myself frantically planning for my return to work. Usually I find myself worse off than I started. All the grading I meant to do, all the lesson planning I should have done… it all piles up like the snow outside. Ahh… the teacher life!
There is an upside to all of this, though! In my usual procrastination, I decided to make some agua de jamaica! Given the bitter cold outside, this vivid, summery drink probably reflects some inner need for sunshine and warmer days…
Agua frescas are common beverages in Mexico. They are found at restaurants and eateries, ranging from the ever-popular horchata to fruit-based drinks like agua de piña or agua de sandía. One of the more intriguing aguas frescas is agua de jamaica. It is known for its bright magenta color and tart flavor. It’s personally my favorite agua fresca both for its agridulce taste and the ease with which you can prepare it.
Agua de jamaica is made with the sepals of hibiscus flowers. Apparently, it’s not only delicious, but also salubrious. According to livestrong, it’s rich in antioxidants and can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. Obviously, I can’t medically back up any of its health benefits since I am not a nutritionist, but hey- it sounds good to me!
I always make this drink at home because this way I can control the sugar content unlike the typically, overly sugary versions you can get at Mexican restaurants. You can find hibiscus flowers, which are sometimes also called jamaica flowers, at any latin grocer or online at amazon.com
The process is simple. All you do is steep the hibiscus sepals in boiling water. Then, add sugar, some more water, and a bit of lemon and cinnamon, and voila, a beautiful ruby-red tea to ease away those winter blues.
Agua de Jamaica
Yields 7 Cups
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
- 1 cup hibiscus sepals
- ½ cup sugar
- 7 cups water
- Lemon Juice
- Bring 2 cups water to boil. When boiling, turn off the heat and add hibiscus. Cover pot and allow to steep for 10 minutes. Add sugar and stir until it dissolved.
- Strain the tea into a pitcher. Add 5 cups of cold water and chill for an hour before drinking.