I was lucky enough to spend a rainy afternoon in good company sampling teas from all over the world at Steven Smith Teamaker in Portland, Oregon, a couple years ago. I came away with a clear favorite — Big Hibiscus — for its ruby red color, its slight tartness, its unexpected splash of fruity flavor, and the way it made me feel at peace while I sipped it.
I’ve since learned that the hibiscus flower has been used all over the world for medicinal purposes. It is extraordinarily high in Vitamin C and is believed to help maintain healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, and body temperature — no wonder that sense of well-being overtakes me every time I drink it.
Summer is a great time to enjoy steeped hibiscus tea infused with bright citrus and mint and chilled over ice. Although Steven Smith Teamaker’s “Big Hibiscus” tea — hibiscus leaves mixed with Indian sarsaparilla, European elderflower, pink rose petals and root ginger — is my favorite, other companies make good hibiscus blends with varying ingredients (Tazo’s blend is called “Passion”).
In this recipe, I use only Stevia to sweeten the tea, so there is no sugar or caffeine — just that luscious red goodness. You could use a different sweetener of your choice; agave would also work nicely.
Citrus & Mint Hibiscus Iced Tea
8 cups water
4 packets of Stevia, or equivalent of another sweetener
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves (about 20 leaves), plus more for garnish
3 hibiscus tea bags
Juice of 1 orange, 1 lemon, and 1 lime (about 1 cup of juice all together), plus more lime wedges for garnish
Directions: In a medium pot, boil water and Stevia until the powder is dissolved, about 3 minutes; mix well. Turn off heat and add mint leaves and 3 tea bags and let steep for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, juice the citrus fruit and combine together in one cup; set aside. Prepare a tea strainer over a mixing bowl nestled in a larger bowl of ice water. When the tea is done steeping, remove the tea bags and pour through the strainer into the mixing bowl. Discard the mint leaves. Let the bowl chill in the ice bath. Put some ice cubes in a pitcher and add the citrus juice; when tea is cooled, add it to the pitcher and mix well. Serve in glasses with more ice and garnish with more mint sprigs and lime wedges. Sip and be well.