Everywhere you go in Mexico, from upscale restaurants to taco stands, from beach vendors to Grandma on the corner with her cooler you will find Agua de Frutas or Agua Fresca. These are refreshing drinks made from water, fruit and, of course, sugar. Mexico sure has a sweet tooth. There are many different varieties including strawberry, rice and cinnamon and limon to name just a few but our favorite is Agua de Jamaica.
Agua de Jamaica is made by brewing dried Hibiscus flowers into a tea and adding sugar to taste. It can be served hot but here in Mexico it is almost always served over ice. It is also commonly found in Central America, the Caribbean, Asia, Africa and even Italy although it goes by different names and often other ingredients such as ginger or lemon are added. The tea is also used for medicinal purposes in some countries due to the high Vitamin C and mineral content and it is believed to help regulate blood pressure.
Aside from the potential health benefits we drink it because it’s delicious and refreshing and it’s a true Mexican experience. It has a slightly tart taste similar to cranberries so many people prefer it highly sweetened but when we make it at home we use very little sweetener. The dried Hibiscus flowers are easy to fine here in Mexico either in bulk bins at the market or prepackaged at the grocery store. Back in North America I would imagine it could be found at health food stores or Ethnic markets.
It’s super simple to make. I rarely measure when I cook so for this I just played around with the amounts until it tasted good to me.
Boil water (enough to fill the jug you’re using)
Add the dried Hibiscus flowers (about a good handful for a medium size jug) to the hot water and let it steep for about 10 minutes
- Strain into a jug or glass
Add sugar or other sweetener to taste and if it’s brewed too strong for you just add more water
- Pour over ice
Born in England, Sarah developed her wanderlust at a young age as she traveled around Europe with her parents. As a young adult she spent every penny she could on experiences as opposed to possessions. Eventually she found a way to earn a living doing what she loved: traveling, writing and capturing images of the wondrous world we live in. When not on the go Sarah enjoys time in her “sometimes home” of Vancouver.