hibiscus flower tea
As the Northern Sacramento Valley swelters under 108º F weather, the longing for the cooling effect of hibiscus and mint tea emerges. Hibiscus has become trendy, with Trader Joe's selling the packaged flowers to hibiscus-infused desserts appearing at bakeshops. But, according to the company that introduced Austin, Texas to hibiscus tea and its refreshing effects, it has been used since the time of the pharaohs who sought refuge from the desert heat. Hibiscus has refrigerant properties, and adding mint increases its cooling abilities. The tea boasts a deep crimson color and is both tart and sweet in taste.
Hibiscus tea has also been used to decrease blood pressure. While a 2010 Cochrane Review states that no definitive conclusions can be made as to the beneficial effects of hibiscus tea on blood pressure, clinical trials have found it efficacious in lowering hypertension. Marissa Oppel-Sutter cites two such studies in the HerbClip references. Two more studies, which took place in Mexico, found a hibiscus flower extract was beneficial in the treatment of hypertension. The flower that cools the body also seems to effectively cool down blood pressure.
The tall, slender hibiscus is related to both okra and the cotton plant but not to the ornamental hibiscus. It produces small pink flowers, which, in turn, produce seedpods. Large, fleshy red calyxes grow around the pods and can be harvested and dried in the sun to become the blackish-red bits used in infusions. There are about 10 cups of dried hibiscus in a pound. One cup steeped in two quarts of hot water makes eight cups of hibiscus tea. For an added twist, add a bit of orange juice and/or lime juice to make it even more refreshing.