I found Flor de Jamaica or Hibiscus Flower (dried) at Walmart! This drink is awesome. These are served at Sunday brunch at a favorite restaurant of mine. I was thrilled when I found the recipe at chow.com! They can be served virgin or with a spike of high quality vodka. Look for Jamaica flowers (also known as hibiscus or flor de jamaica) in most Latin grocery stores; they’re often found in the bulk bins or in the dried herbs section. You can also find them online at MexGrocer.com.
If you’re making this for a crowd you’ll want to make a double or triple recipe and make it in a big stockpot.
Sometimes there’s a little gritty sediment that settles at the bottom of the brewing pot. To prevent any grit from getting into your agua fresca, don’t pour the very last bit of the brew through the sieve while straining.
Do not confuse this with the hibiscus flowers you might grow in your flower beds. Read on for more info.
Also known as: roselle, rosella or rosella fruit in Australia, meśta/meshta on the Indian subcontinent, chin baung in Myanmar, krajeab in Thailand, bissap in Senegal, Mali, and Niger, the Congo and France, dah or dah bleni in other parts of Mali, wonjo in the Gambia, zobo in Nigeria (the Yorubas in Nigeria call the white variety Isapa (pronounced Ishapa)), karkade (كركديه; IPA: ['karkade]) in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan, omutete in Namibia, sorrel in the Caribbean and Jamaica in Latin America, Saril in Panama, rosela in Indonesia, asam paya or asam susur in Malaysia. In Chinese it is (Luo Shen Hua) .
The plant is considered to have anti-hypertensive properties and has been used in folk medicine as a diuretic, mild laxative, and treatment for cardiac and nerve diseases and cancer. It can also be found in markets (as flowers or syrup) in some places such as France, where there are Senegalese immigrant communities. In East Africa, the calyx infusion, called "Sudan tea", is taken to relieve coughs. In Africa, especially the Sahel, roselle is commonly used to make a sugary herbal tea that is commonly sold on the street. The dried flowers can be found in every market. In the Caribbean the drink is made from the fresh fruit, and it is considered an integral part of Christmas celebrations. The Carib Brewery Trinidad Limited, a Trinidad and Tobago brewery, produces a Shandy Sorrel in which the tea is combined with beer.
In Thailand, Roselle is drunk as a tea, believed to also reduce cholesterol. In Malaysia, they consider this a pro-health drink due to high contents of vitamin C and anthocyanins. In Mexico, 'agua de Jamaica' is most often homemade as it is in this recipe and is often served chilled. However, one of the most popular brands of Mexican soft drinks,"Jarritos", is made from the flowers.