Hibiscus Health Benefits | Why This Tea Will Leave You In The Pink
Looking for the perfect iced beverage this summer? Read on to discover why a chilled hibiscus tea should be your healthy, go-to brew for the hotter months.Forget artificial flavours and energy drinks packed with added sugars: for an antioxidant-rich thirst quencher, this summer we’re stashing a caddy of wholesome hibiscus tea in our kitchen cupboards.
A refreshing, immune-boosting alternative to plain old water, hibiscus tea packs an array of health benefits (see below) that studies have shown may run from weight loss and cancer-fighting properties to a reduction in free radicals and inflammatory conditions.
Helping to bolster the immune system and keep you in good health all year round, hibiscus tea is a particular favourite in the summer months, when it can be served chilled, turned into ice lollies or even used as a base for a vibrant, fruit-spiked non-alcoholic cocktail, served in an elegant pitcher.
Maybe you need some healthy hydration post-workout. Perhaps you just want a soothing, naturally caffeine-free tea to sip during those long, sun-drenched evenings. Whatever your plans for the coming months, hibiscus tea is hydrating, packed with health perks and ideal for any time of day.
What is hibiscus tea?Made by steeping the calyces, or sepals, of Hibiscus sabdariffa (a member of the mallow family, and also known as roselle) in hot water, hibiscus tea is a crimson-coloured beverage. Famed for its tart yet fruity taste, it’s a little akin to cranberry juice – minus the calories.
Known for its exuberant flowers, this fast-growing hibiscus plant is found in tropical and subtropical regions all over the world. For centuries it has been the source of this flavourful, health-boosting herbal tea, usually available as dried flowers – as in our own Hibiscus Bora Bora and Black Forest Loose Leaf Tea Fruit Infusions – although it can also be made from freshly harvested flowers, if you can find them.Hibiscus tea’s rich history has seen it enjoyed everywhere from Egyptian tea houses to Mexican taquerias. Globally, it has many names: sorrel in Indonesia; karkade in Egypt and Sudan; Rudrapushpa in parts of India. In Mexico, it’s known as flor de Jamaica and is thought to have originally arrived via the Caribbean – brought over by 17th-century slaves abducted from West Africa, where it’s called bissap and still widely popular.
Wherever it’s found, it’s linked with good health, and the many uses of hibiscus tea have historically ranged from the treatment of heart conditions, as in Iran, all the way to China, where it was traditionally prescribed as a diuretic.
Which leads us on to…
The health benefits of hibiscus
If that full, fruity flavour of hibiscus tea, with its tart, slightly sour edge, tastes like it’s doing you good, you’re onto something.
Recent research into hibiscus has shown how the plant’s properties may help boost health in a variety of ways*. Here are eight great benefits associated with this powerhouse infusion:
Fights inflammation: The calyces of the Hibiscus sabdariffa plant, from which hibiscus tea is made, are rich in anthocyanins, known for their anti-inflammatory properties and key in preventing a range of health conditions and diseases, from arthritis to Alzheimer’s.
Protects with antioxidants: Hibiscus tea is a good source of vitamin C and other antioxidants that help fight free radicals and are especially helpful for tissue, cartilage and collagen production. (Your skin will thank you.)
Lowers blood pressure: A recent study into the effect of hibiscus on blood pressure showed it to be beneficial in reducing hypertension, due to its diuretic properties.
Helps reduce cholesterol: Thereby lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and strokes.
Promotes weight loss: New Australian research has shown that hibiscus may inhibit the formation of fat cells.
Antibacterial: Hibiscus flower extract has been linked with antibacterial properties and is particularly associated with a reduction in the streptococcus bacterium that causes periodontal disease.
Supports liver health: Studies in both humans and animals have shown hibiscus to reduce markers of fat- and diet-induced liver damage.
- Contains cancer prevention compounds: Although more research is needed, the high content of polyphenols in hibiscus have demonstrated promise in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.
How to enjoy Hibiscus Tea
Delicious either hot or cold, hibiscus tea can be prepared in a variety of ways – as it has been traditionally around the world. If you want to amp up its health benefits, you could take your cues from Nigeria, where hibiscus tea is known as zobo and is commonly served with slices of nutrient-rich pineapple and spices such as antioxidant-rich cloves and infection-fighting ginger.
Hibiscus tea is sometimes known as sour tea, and for good reason, so you may like to add a little honey (a healthier option than the sugar it’s served with as standard in Egypt). Alternatively, take the edge off by stirring in your own mix of honey and/or fruit, to taste, or simply add a squeeze of lemon or lime.
If you’re drinking it warm, steep the loose leaves in boiling water as you would one of our other favourite Tea Makers of London Fruit Infusions. If you’re making it cold, pour the water over the hibiscus flowers and other ingredients and ideally steep it overnight in the fridge.
For the easiest way to get all the health benefits of hibiscus tea, try our Hibiscus Bora Bora in our take-anywhere original Triune Teabags.
*Pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as diabetics or those with low blood sugar, are advised against taking hibiscus