Hibiscus flowers have been used for years in Egypt, Africa, Europe and India for its purported medicinal properties. This deep purple-red flower is also know as "sour-tea" for its tart flavor. Some of the implied benefits include helping with fluid retention, preventing heart disease, alleviating constipation, promoting circulation and supporting skin health.
There is now some evidence to support its medical uses. Recent studies show that there are important phytonutrients in hibiscus such as alkaloids, anthocyanins and quercetin that are important factors in giving hibiscus potential potent healing properties.
The most promising of the studies shows that drinking hibiscus tea for 6-8 weeks may help to lower blood pressure in pre-hypertensive and mildly hypertensive patients.
There are also studies reporting that hibiscus may help to lower cholesterol, however the evidence is still insufficient to draw any conclusions.
What we do know is that hibiscus flowers are a certainly an impressive source of those phytonutrients (alkaloids, anthocyanins and quercetin), which scavenge free radicals that damage cells within the body. These plant substances have shown promising development in preventing age-related diseases such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis and more.
Three ways to use hibiscus:
1. Add 2 tsp of hibiscus flowers to a tea infuser or strainer. Pour 16 ounces of water over the strainer and into a bowl, tea pot or large container. Let steep for 15-20 minutes (the darker the color the more anthocyanins!). Remove the strainer and store the herbal tea in the fridge to let cool. When ready to serve, add ice for a cool refreshing summer drink. If it's too tart, mix equal amount of water to the hibiscus tea for a more mild flavor. Delicious variation: add 2 tsp of hibiscus flower, cinnamon stick and vanilla bean to the tea infuser or strainer for a spiced hibiscus herbal tea. Yum!
2. Steep one tsp hibiscus herbal tea with one tsp green or white tea (shown in photo) for 15 minutes. Mix the tea in a 1:1 ratio with filtered water. Place in refrigerator until cool or about 2 hours. Pour mixture into an empty amber spray bottle and use as a high antioxidant spritzer for your face. Keep it in your purse and use as a mid-afternoon refresher. (ps. you can also drink this nutrient charged blend of hibiscus and green or white tea!)
3. Make a hibiscus summer spritzer by first making the herbal tea then mixing it with seltzer water and adding a squeeze of lemon or lime. For a little sweetness, muddle a handful of blueberries into the bottom of your drink.
Bonus: freeze hibiscus tea in ice cube or Popsicle trays for an afternoon refreshing treat.
Skincare bonus: Squeeze a few drops of hibiscus tea into your moisturizer in the morning and evening for an extra antioxidant boost.
Do you have other suggestions for hibiscus uses? Perhaps in baking or savory recipes? Please share!