Are you that person at social gatherings?
I’m referring to the one who when offered something to drink, you prefer to pass because all the options are loaded with sugar or something else that would make you feel unwell for the next week. Or at least the next day.
I am definitely that person. But I so wish I didn’t have to be in order to feel healthy.
And that’s where my recipe for a refreshing sugar-free hibiscus lime iced tea comes in! It’s perfect for summer gatherings and feels fancy, yet is actually so simple, healthy, and delicious.
Hibiscus is a flower that grows in tropical and subtropical parts of the world. There are over 300 species of hibiscus, but the one that is commonly used to make hibiscus tea is known as Hibiscus sabdariffa L.
In St Lucia (located in the Caribbean), it is known as sorrel and is used to make a beverage referred to as sorrel “juice”. The fresh flowers (pictured below) can be found in grocery stores around Christmas time. In Jamaica, you can find a beverage called “agua de Jamaica” which is similarly made from hibiscus.
But in other parts of the world (such as the US and Europe), hibiscus is more commonly used in its dried form.
Health Benefits of Hibiscus
Hibiscus has been used as a traditional medicine in many regions of the world including India, Africa, Guatemala, and Mexico. Traditional uses of hibiscus as medicine include the following :
- To increase bile secretion from the gallbladder
- To stimulate intestinal peristalsis
- To treat sore throat and cough
- To decrease blood pressure
- To reduce fever
- To increase the production of urine
- To treat drunkenness
Hibiscus tea contains minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, sodium, iron, and zinc . It is also rich in antioxidants called anthocyanins and contains beneficial constituents such as quercetin and eugenol.
Research has shown that hibiscus may have the following effects :
- Antispasmodic effect- relaxing the uterus and intestine
- Antibacterial activity against bacteria that cause cavities (Streptococcus mutans), staph infections (Staphylococcus aureus), and food poisoning (Campylobacter species)
- Improvement in blood pressure in pre-hypertensive and mildly hypertensive individuals (randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial– that’s quality research– the amount used was 1.25 g hibiscus per 240 mL boiled water 3x/day for 6 weeks)
- Antioxidant activity
- Increased activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and more
- Decrease of LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol, while increasing HDL cholesterol (the good kind!)
- Improvement of blood lipid and blood pressure levels in type 2 diabetics (clinical studies)
Even if you aren’t looking for any of these specific health benefits that hibiscus offers, it makes for a delicious beverage. So sip on, my friends!
- 4 cups water
- 2 Tbsp dried hibiscus flowers
- Juice of 1 lime
- Stevia (without inulin or erythritol), to taste (I use ⅛ tsp pure powdered stevia or ~15 drops liquid stevia)
- Ice cubes
- Lime slices
- Add water to a medium saucepan.
- Place hibiscus flowers in a looseleaf tea bag and set in the pot of water. If you do not have a tea bag and instead want to use a fine mesh strainer, you can place the flowers directly in the water.
- Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and allow to cook 15-20 minutes.
- Carefully remove tea bag and allow pot to cool for about 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Or if straining through a fine mesh strainer, allow to cool slightly before doing so.
- Transfer tea to the the fridge to cool (at least 2 hours).
- Once the tea has cooled, add lime juice and stevia and stir.
- When ready to serve, cut a slit in each lime slice and place on the rim of the serving glasses. Fill serving glasses with ice cubes and pour hibiscus iced tea over the ice cubes.
*Hibiscus has not been tested for its FODMAP content at the time of writing this recipe. My best guess is that it is low FODMAP or if it does contain FODMAPs, that the beneficial properties may outweigh any difficulty in digestion.
 Da-costa-rocha I, Bonnlaender B, Sievers H, Pischel I, Heinrich M. Hibiscus sabdariffa L. – a phytochemical and pharmacological review. Food Chem. 2014;165:424-43.
 USDA Food Database. Accessed 6/23/2019.
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