Deep red hibiscus tea is made from an infusion of hibiscus flower sepals. It's high in vitamin C, among other vitamins and minerals, and is naturally a gentle diuretic. It is drunk around the world either hot or cold, and some prefer to add spices and sweeten the tart flavor with sugar. To make your own hibiscus tea from scratch, you will first need to grow the flowers.
Growing Hibiscus for Tea
Step 1: Choose Your Hibiscus
Choose the type of hibiscus flowers you want to grow. There are more than 200 known species of hibiscus flowers in the world, including hardy and tropical varieties, but the species most commonly used for tea is Hibiscus sabdariffa (USDA plant hardiness zones 8 through 11). Acquire hibiscus seeds from a nursery or a seed distributor. Organic seeds are preferred.
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Step 2: Plant Hibiscus Seeds
Plant the hibiscus seeds sometime between mid-May and early June. It is best to start them in nursery beds or well-drained containers in a protected grow room if you live in a cooler climate. If you live in a warm climate, you can start the seeds right in the ground. These flowers like warm, moist climates and will not survive a frost. The flowers bloom best in temperatures from 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 3: Transplant Seedlings Outdoors
Water the seeds regularly if you live in a region that gets little rain, but don't flood them; simply keep them moist at all times. If you have started the seeds in nursery containers, you may transplant them to an outdoor bed when they are about 4 inches tall.
Harvesting Hibiscus for Tea
Step 1: Monitor Plant Growth
Monitor your plants so that you can pick the calyxes (the sepals) at the proper time. They can take anywhere from 3 to 5 months to mature for the picking, depending on your climate.
Step 2: Pick Each Calyx When Ripe
Pick each calyx, which will be dried for making tea, when it is ripe. A calyx or outer bunch of leaves protecting the bud of the flower will look bright and shiny when ready. These appear large and mature after the actual flower has fallen off. You should be able to just snap off the ones that are ready. Those near the bottom of the plant will most likely become ripe first.
Making Hibiscus Tea
Step 1: Wash and Dry the Calyxes
Wash the picked calyxes; then dry them in the sun or in a dehydrator.
Step 2: Make Tea From Dried Hibiscus
Place a handful of the dried hibiscus pieces in a silk sachet and place in a mug. Pour boiling water over it and let it steep several minutes. Add sugar or some other sweetener if you like and drink the tea hot or cold.