Hibiscus tea is the infusion made from the calyces (sepals) of the Hibiscus sabdariffa flower, a herbal tea drink consumed both hot and cold by people around the world. It is also referred to as rosella (another common name for the hibiscus flower), jamaica in Latin America, karkady in the Middle East, bissap in West Africa, red sorrel in the Caribbean, and other names in other regions. Hibiscus tea has a tart, cranberry-like flavor, and sugar is often added to sweeten the beverage. The tea contains vitamin C and minerals and is used traditionally as a mild medicine.
Hibiscus tea contains 15-30% organic acids, including citric acid, maleic acid, and tartaric acid. It also contains acidic polysaccharides and flavonoid glycosides, such as cyanidin and delphinidin, that give it its characteristic deep red colour.
In India, Africa and Mexico, all above-ground parts of the roselle plant are valued in native medicine. Infusions of the leaves or calyces are regarded as diuretic, cholerectic, febrifugal and hypotensive, decreasing the viscosity of the blood and stimulating intestinal peristalsis. Pharmacognosists in Senegal recommend roselle extract for lowering blood pressure. In 1962, Sharaf confirmed the hypotensive activity of the calyces and found them antispasmodic, anthelmintic and antibacterial as well.
In 1964, the aqueous extract was found effective against Ascaris gallinarum in poultry. Three years later, Sharaf and co-workers showed that both the aqueous extract and the coloring matter of the calyces are lethal to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In experiments with domestic fowl, roselle extract decreased the rate of absorption of alcohol and solessened its effect on the system. In Guatemala, roselle “ade” is a favorite remedy for the aftereffects of drunkenness.
In East Africa, the calyx infusion, called “Sudan tea”, is taken to relieve coughs. Roselle juice, with salt, pepper, asafetida and molasses, is taken as a remedy for biliousness.
- Several studies have shown hibiscus tea to be beneficial in lowering blood pressure and may control cholesterol.
- Hibiscus tea contains an enzyme inhibitor which blocks the production of amylase. Amylase is an enzyme that breaks down complex sugars and starches. Drinking a cup of hibiscus tea after meals will reduce the absorption of dietary carbohydrates and will assist in weight loss.
- Hibiscus tea is rich in vitamin C and makes a wonderful herbal remedy to fight off colds and infections by strengthening the immune system.
- Other benefits of hibiscus tea include preventing bladder infections and constipation if taken regularly.