Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Pucker Up: North America Embraces Hibiscus Tea
Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) has become increasingly popular across the US and Canada in recent years. Big name brands are now carrying hibiscus products in an effort to cater to increasingly health-conscious and exotically-minded consumers. Yet this surge interest is only beginning to catch up with the global enthusiasm for hibiscus that has been developing for some time.
Hibiscus the World Over
Technically a tisane, infusions made with Hibiscus often go by the name “Hibiscus tea” in English. This “tea” is also known by a variety of other names: Bissap in West Africa (the national drink of Senegal), Karkadé or Karakady in Egypt, Sudan, and Switzerland, flor de Jamaica or rosa de Jamaica in Mexico, Gudhal in India where it is appreciated for its Ayurvedic properties, and Gongura in Brazil. Other common names for hibiscus include “roselle” and “sorrel” (not to be confused with the vegetable Rumex acetosa).
Hibiscus tea is a frequent companion to celebrations of all kinds, as the bright red liquor shows up beautifully in the cup. It has long been a staple of Christmas celebrations in the Caribbean, where it is blended with spices and served with rum or wine. There is a growing trend in parts of the Middle East to drink iced hibiscus tea during Ramadan’s evening meals, while North American consumers are increasingly requesting it from coffee shops during the hot summer months.
Not Your Typical “Loose Leaf”
Few people realize that hibiscus tea is not made from the flowers or leaves of the plant. The infusion is actually prepared using the hibiscus’ calyx (calyces plural). The calyx is the hard, leaf-like protector of the hibiscus tree’s fruit, similar to what you find on the top of a tomato. The hibiscus calyx is harvested along with the fruit, and set out to dry in the sun. As it dries, the calyx develops its trademark purple color. Hibiscus is mostly grown in Egypt, Sudan, China, and parts of Southeast Asia for tea production.
Gorgeous Color in the Cup
Hibiscus tea is made by steeping calyces into hot water for 3-5 minutes and can be served hot or iced. Hibiscus tea has a tart flavor that is frequently compared to cranberry juice. As a result many people blend it with ginger, sugars, or other spices to offset the tartness.
Another appealing quality of the tea is its bright red color. Tea blenders often add hibiscus to their blends for the color alone. A small amount of hibiscus can brighten any blend dramatically, even if it is “steeped” in cold water.
Our Rosa De Jamaica
Rosa De Jamaica TBC
At QTrade we use hibiscus in a number of our tea blends. One of our most popular blends, the aptly named “Rosa de Jamaica” iced tea, recently won an award at the North American Tea Championship and has consistently been one of our most requested products ever since. We carry organic, fair trade, and conventional hibiscus in C/S and TBC cuts.
Please contact us for a complete list of our hibiscus blends as well as information about how we can create hibiscus products for you.http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Pucker-Up--America-Embraces-Hibiscus-Tea.html?soid=1102498753007&aid=54jVpPPftjE