Hibiscus sabdariffa L.
There are over 220 species within the genus Hibiscus. Hibiscus plants grow in most tropical areas of the world, with a minority of species able to survive in freezing environments. The abundant species found in the tropics cannot tolerate more than a few days of freezing weather and will die if such conditions persist. Hibiscus flowers come in a magnificent variety of colors.
The tart taste of hibiscus is due to is content of 15 to 30% plant acids, including citric, malic, and tartaric acids. The wine-red color of the tea is the to anthocyans, including delphinidins and cyanidins. In tea, the herb yields mucilage and pectins.
The flower, dried, cut, and powdered.
Hibiscus is available as a bulk tea and in tea bags, as well as an ingredient in tea mixtures. Can be used as a natural dye, and is incorporated in several cosmetics. Rarely found in capsule or extract form.
Hibiscus flowers are the main ingredient in many wonderfully refreshing teas made around the world, especially in Mexico, Latin America, and North Africa. A tea known as Agua de Jamaica, or simply Jamaica in Mexico, is usually served chilled with copious amounts of sugar to sweeten the natural tartness of the hibiscus. Recently, hibiscus has been added to many ready made teas due to its high levels of anti-oxidants, and has even become the main flavoring agent in certain sodas.