Now that the fresh tinge of summer is in the air it’s a great time to be indulging and experimenting with the wide variety of herbal & floral teas available for making into beautiful, soothing and refreshing brews. Nowadays you can buy several wonderful herbal tea mixes, but another option is to brew the tea yourself from dried flowers such as and chamomile, hibiscus, or even herbs such as mint leaves.
I’ve chosen hibiscus as my first summer tea because it works wonderfully as either a hot or cold brew. That means that you can have it as a warming floral brew hot in teacups, or serve it chilled with ice for a simple summer refresher.
Hibiscus has a tart, fruity flavour somewhat similar to cranberries. When brewed hot, it delivers a strong, full profile with sharp notes and a warming finish that’s delicious served with chocolate cake – we drank it with a white chocolate sponge. It also tastes incredibly good with the sweet smoothness of honey, adding a deeper aroma to the brew, and lemon compliments equally well for a taste of summer.
Like all other natural ingredients, hibiscus has a myriad of wonderful health benefits. In England we’re still experiencing some cold and dreary days although they’re slowly making their way to hot and sunny – and that transaction is the prime time for colds and flu to spread easily. Drinking a cup of hibiscus tea is an easy way to help the immune system fight off the viruses – but it also has other benefits, like helping to lower blood pressure.
Historically, tea has been a big part of every culture. We all have our “famous” teas: Masala chai, Black tea, Mint tea, Matcha, Green tea, Oolong, Sweet Iced tea; there are so many things to learn, whether it’s about tea as a culture, tea ceremonies, or even it’s uses in baking and flavouring. Whatever your knowledge of tea or no matter how frequently you brew tea, you’ll find seeping the flowers and pouring the tea is definitely a soothing mediation.
The point is – tea is a very personal thing. I recommend that you adapt this recipe to suit your own preferences, to what you feel tastes good. Different strengths of tea, sweetnesses and temperature, can all be controlled easily: strength, by the seeping time – how long you leave the flowers to seep out their colour and flavour; sweetness, by whether you choose to add sugar, honey, or none at all; and temperature, whether you decide to use all boiled water, or ¾ boiled and ¼ cold later, to be chilled.
Hot Brew Hibiscus tea with Lemon & Cinnamon
- 2 tsp dried hibiscus flowers
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- Small grating of lemon zest
- Boiled water, to taste – about 4 cups
- Place hibiscus flowers in your teapot. If you want the tea to have a strong flavour of cinnamon, add it now along with the lemon zest. Otherwise, leave it as a garnish.
- Pour over the boiling water and let it seep for 5 minutes to impart it’s colour and flavour. You can test the flavour at 2 minutes if you like weaker tea, or leave it longer, too.
- Pour into teacups and serve with your choice of sweeter if desired, or drink on its own.
Cold Brew Iced Hibiscus, Lemon and Mint Tea
- 2 tsp dried hibiscus flowers
- 5 cups cold water
- Mint leaf
- Ice cubes
- Place hibiscus flowers and mint leaf into a tall jar, pour over cold water and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
- Pour into glasses and garnish with lemon slices, more mint leaves, and lots of ice cubes.
Note: Don’t use a sweetener like sugar, honey, or agave in the iced tea. They won’t dissolve – if you want to use a sweetener, make a basic sugar syrup.