Looking like wood or roots? No, it’s a Hibiscus blossom. Hibiscus is a genus of flowering plants in the mallow family, Malvaceae. Several hundred species known and native to warm-temperate, subtropical and tropical regions allover the world. I love it as a wonderful plant since childhood – at that time You met only red blossoms here. Later, as a student I detected some apricot and pink coloured and also filled species and fell in love with them. Some are white with “drops of colours”. Some of them had been guests in my home for more than 15 years, having their place at sunny large windows or my desk in front of that sunny window place, others had their place outside during the summer weeks.
The tea made from hibiscus flowers is known by many names in many countries around the world and is served both hot and cold. The beverage is well known for its color, tanginess and flavor.
It is known as bissap in West Africa, karkadé in Egypt and Sudan, flor de Jamaica in Mexico, gudhal in India and gongura in Brazil. Some refer to it as roselle, a common name for the hibiscus flower.
In Jamaica and many other islands in the Caribbean, the drink is known as sorrel. The drink is popular at Christmas time, served cold, mixed with other herbs, roots, spices and cane sugar. Often it is served mixed with Jamaican rum or wine.
Roselle is typically boiled in an enamel-coated large stock pot as most West Indians believe the metal from aluminum, steel or copper pots will destroy the natural minerals and vitamins.
In Cambodia, a cold beverage can be prepared by first steeping the petals in hot water until the colors are leached from the petals, then adding lime juice (which turns the beverage from dark brown/red to a bright red), sweeteners (sugar/honey) and finally cold water/ice cubes.Dried hibiscus is edible, and is often a delicacy in Mexico. It can also be candied and used as a garnish.
The roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is also used as a vegetable.
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is considered to have a number of medical uses in Chinese herbology.
The red hibiscus flower is traditionally worn by Tahitian women. A single flower, tucked behind the ear, is used to indicate the wearer’s availability for marriage.
Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, named her first novel Purple Hibiscus after the delicate flower.
The bark of the hibiscus contains strong bast fibres that can be obtained by letting the stripped bark set in the sea to let the organic material rot away. In Polynesia, these fibers (fau, pūrau) are used for making grass skirts. They have also been known to be used to make wigs.The tea is popular as a natural diuretic; it contains vitamin C and minerals, and is used traditionally as a mild medicine.
Dieters or people with kidney problems often take it without adding sugar for its beneficial properties and as a natural diuretic.
A 2008 USDA study shows consuming hibiscus tea lowers blood pressure in a group of prehypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults. Three cups of tea daily resulted in an average drop of 8.1 mmHg in their systolic blood pressure, compared to a 1.3 mmHg drop in the volunteers who drank the placebo beverage. Study participants with higher blood pressure readings (129 or above) had a greater response to hibiscus tea: their systolic blood pressure went down by 13.2 mmHg. These data support the idea that drinking hibiscus tea in an amount readily incorporated into the diet may play a role in controlling blood pressure, although more research is required.
For food You can use it as one of several ingredients – for tea, spiced salt (gives a fruity and fresh flavour), sirupe and blossom jelly. It’s also a lovely ingredient for desserts. And of course hibiscus sirupe is a lovely starter filled up with sparkling wine.
Working on some recipes with those dried hibiscus blossoms I really love the fruity taste, somehow a little bit of rhubarb, cherry, berries and mallow. Stay tuned – recipes will follow.
Links of possible interest might be:
- Agua De Jamaica
- Panna cotta mit Hibiskus und Acerolakirsche
- Rosa Kokos-Hibiskus-Tee
- Florentiner Gewürzlikör
- Sonnentor (just search for “Hibiskus”)
Bildquelle: Hibiskusblüte © Liz Collet (Nutzungsrechte und Infos dazu unter diesem Link) , Drucke von Grusskarten bis Poster und (gerahmten) Bildern /Prints unterschiedlicher Art und Grössen hier und dort
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