With its bold pigment and tart yet citrusy flavor, hibiscus is beloved by pastry chefs and mixologists alike. As temperatures rise, the flower makes for a phenomenal iced tea. Its natural tartness can be balanced with honey or cane sugar, or a dash of rum, bourbon, herbs-think basil, thyme, or rosemary-and slices of tropical fruit. Hibiscus is also a prized ingredient in the foodways of the African diaspora, where it lends a beautiful red hue to celebratory drinks. The flower's bright color makes it a key player in Juneteenth celebrations, when many consume red beverages to symbolize strength in solidarity of enslaved Africans. Whether you brew your own or purchase hibiscus tea from one of these makers, I hope you'll raise a glass in celebration.
Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell
Three Teas to Try
Just Add Honey Tea Company
Owners Brandi and Jermail Shelton started their Atlanta-based company to bring tea lovers together. They like to use hibiscus as a base for their fruity offerings, and their Berries! tea blend includes blueberries, raspberries, black currants, elderberries, and raisins. They have several other combinations that also highlight the fruity hibiscus flower. $15 for 3-oz. tin at justaddhoney.net
Ellis Island Tea
Armed with her great-grandfather's secret hibiscus tea recipe and his strict instruction for it to be "sold and not told," Nailah Ellis turned a formula into an empire. Ellis currently offers two flavors-Caribbean Punch and Jamaican Sweet Tea-sweetened with cold-pressed sugar cane and full of fragrant ingredients like rose hip and mint leaves. $30 for eight 16.9-oz. bottles at ellisislandtea.com
"I started Berry Bissap because I felt that there was a serious lack of African food and beverages on grocery shelves," says founder Akua Kyerematen Nettey. She infuses her hibiscus teas with organic fruits to create harmonious bottled blends, such as cinnamon citrus, pineapple, and mixed berry, with eye-catching packaging. $26 for four 12-oz. bottles at berrybissap.com