Hibiscus syriacus, Rose of Sharon
Hibiscus is known to be a tropical flower. The typical Hibiscus is indeed cold sensitive and is grown in Miami, Hawaii, and most known to originate in Malaysia. There are over 130 species of hibiscus. It seems that each area around the world have their own species and are considered native.
In North America we can enjoy Hibiscus without worry to cover our plants when a cold snap arrives. Make sure you buy and plant the right one. I have the Rose of Sharon in my Orlando yard and have seen it all the way up in zone 5 in Chicago.
Hibiscus is my favorite iced tea. The bright red color and tangy/sweet taste makes it unique and refreshing. In Mexico it is called “flor de Jamaica” or just Jamaica. Pronounced “Hamica” in Spanish.
Hibiscus has proven to reduce blood pressure, hypertension and chloesterol. Also has a good source of vitamin C and antioxidants. Flowers are edible and not just a pretty flower!
Easy to care for, grow, and boasts plentiful flowers most of the year. Hibiscus syriacus comes in red, pink, white or purple flowers. My love of them did not begin until I was in college in Gainesville, FL. This is because I knew the tropical hibiscus grown in Miami where I am from to be water hogs. The tropical varieties have larger leaves and larger flowers and are quite brilliant on their own. The Rose of Sharon has smaller leaves and flowers but still a Hibiscus. Grows more of a tree than shrub and multi-trunk. It is definitely a must try and a joy to have in your yard to talk about or make as a tea.
- 2 quarts water
- 3/4 to 1 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you would like it to be)
- 1 cup dried hibiscus flowers
- 1/2 cinnamon stick (optional)
- A few thin slices ginger (optional)
- Allspice berries (optional)
- Lime juice (optional)
- Orange or lime slices for garnish
1 Put 4 cups of the water and the sugar in a medium saucepan. Add cinnamon, ginger slices, and/or a few allspice berries if you would like. Heat until boiling and the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in the dried hibiscus flowers.
2 Cover and let sit for 20 minutes. Strain into a pitcher and discard the used hibiscus flowers, ginger, cinnamon, and/or allspice berries.
(At this point you can store ahead the concentrate, chilled, until ready to make the drink.)
3 Add remaining 4 cups of water (or if you want to chill the drink quickly, ice and water) to the concentrate, and chill. Alternatively you can add ice and chilled soda water for a bubbly version. Add a little lime juice for a more punch-like flavor.
Serve over ice with a slice of orange or lime.
Yield: Makes 2 quarts.