Hibiscus Tea: Overview
The other day, I was relaxing by the pool in my favorite outdoor recliner. I had my sunglasses on and my favorite summertime beverage in hand. Let me tell you—there is nothing like the tart, cranberry-like flavor of a cool glass of hibiscus tea. I like to sweeten mine with a little honey instead of sugar. I also like to enjoy a hot glass of hibiscus tea during the winter months.
I’m not the only one who loves a good cup of hibiscus tea—it is heavily consumed in the Caribbean, Mexico, China, and Europe. In fact, the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt once enjoyed hibiscus tea as well! In Egypt and Sudan, hibiscus tea has long been used during wedding toasts.
However, hibiscus herbal tea is more than just a delicious beverage. The health benefits of hibiscus tea are what make it so special. Hibiscus tea is made from the deep magenta sepals of the roselle flower, and is thought to be native to Africa. It is also known by its plant name Hibiscus sabdariffa—hence the name hibiscus tea. The hibiscus name also comes from the Greek word hibiskos and is a flowering plant from the mallow family.
It is important to note that there are 232 species of hibiscus, and not all of them are used for tea or healing. For instance, the Hibiscus sabdariffa plant should not be confused with other hibiscus species, such as the non-medicinal Hibiscus acetosella. The traditional hibiscus tea plant has yellow flowers and a red center. The Hibiscus ascetosella has red flowers.
Hibiscus Tea Nutrition
Hibiscus tea is extremely good for your health. The flowers, calyx, and fruit are all used for healing purposes; however, only the calyx is used for hibiscus tea. The calyx is red, and sometimes may be confused with the non-medicinal hibiscus.
What is the nutritional value of hibiscus tea? First off, hibiscus tea is loaded with antioxidants such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and zinc. One 100-gram serving of hibiscus contains nearly a third of the vitamin C your body needs in a day. It is also packed with 85% of the vitamin B1 required daily, and almost half of the iron you need.
Hibiscus tea is packed full of the essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6. It is also a good source of dietary fiber, protein, vitamin B2, and copper. Hibiscus tea nutrition also contains other compounds such as malic acid, citric acid, and tartaric acid. The flavonoid glycosides and acidic polysaccharides in hibiscus tea help give it the deep magenta color.
Hibiscus Tea Nutrition Chart
Below is a hibiscus tea nutrition chart. It is a helpful reference tool with all the detailed information of a 100 gram serving size of hibiscus tea:
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)||1.279mg||85.00%|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.099mg||6.00%|
Health Benefits of Hibiscus Tea
1. Reduces High Blood Pressure
Scientific studies suggest that daily hibiscus tea consumption may benefit people with slightly increased blood pressure. In a six-week study published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers discovered that hibiscus tea has a greater effect lowering systolic blood pressure than the placebo group, in 65 adults with mildly high blood pressure or pre-hypertension.
Studies have also found that hibiscus tea can lower blood pressure in type 2 diabetics.
2. Helps Lower Cholesterol
The antioxidant properties in hibiscus tea are also thought to benefit people with high cholesterol. Animal studies have found that hibiscus tea may lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, also known as “the bad” cholesterol.
Other studies indicate that hibiscus tea may lower cholesterol levels in people with metabolic syndrome or diabetes.
3. Beneficial Tea for Diabetics
In a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2009, researchers found that hibiscus tea could significantly reduce LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol, and raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels in 53 type 2 diabetics.
Another study from 2009 found that daily hibiscus tea consumption could reduce blood pressure in type 2 diabetics.
4. Offers Liver Protection
The antioxidant properties of hibiscus tea may also help treat liver disease. In a study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology in 2000, researchers found that the anthocyannins in hibiscus tea could significantly reduce inflammatory liver lesions and oxidative liver damage in rats with toxic livers.
5. Anti-cancer Properties
The hibiscus protocatechuic acid found in hibiscus tea has strong antioxidant and anti-tumor properties.
In a study published in the journal Biochemical Pharmacology in 2000, researchers from the Department and Institute of Biochemistry at the Chung Shan Medical and Dental College in Taichung, Taiwan suggested that the protocatechuic acid in hibiscus tea inhibits cancer cell growth by inducing cell death in human leukemia cells.
6. Helps Relieve Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression
Hibiscus tea health benefits also include calming the nervous system. This helps put people into a positive mind frame to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. In a study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology in 2012, researchers found that the flavonoids, anthocyanins and anthocyanidins in hibiscus have potential antidepressant activity. Another study from 2012 found that other hibiscus species can help reduce depression in mice.
7. Benefits Weight Loss
Hibiscus tea may also be a useful component to a weight loss program. Hibiscus tea is low-in-calories, and it is a diuretic herb that helps flush toxins and excess fluids in the body. In a 12-week study published in the journal Food & Function in 2014, researchers found that hibiscus extract consumption could reduce obesity and abdominal fat, and improve liver damage in obese individuals. Research published in the journal Medical Hypotheses in 2002 also suggests that hibiscus tea may be a natural weight loss alternative. Furthermore, a 2010 review suggests that herbal teas like hibiscus tea can help support weight loss by increasing the intake of fluids.
8. Improves Digestion
Hibiscus tea is also considered a valuable digestive aid, and it is thought to improve bowel and bladder function. The diuretic properties of hibiscus tea will also help treat constipation and improve the strength of the gastrointestinal system. The anti-spasmodic effect of hibiscus tea is considered useful for symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome.
9. Helps Boost the Immune System
The high amount of vitamin C in hibiscus tea is considered a great immune system booster, and it can help prevent against colds and the flu. It has the ability to lower body temperature, and therefore hibiscus tea benefits people with a fever as well.
10. Helps Improve Skin Conditions
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in hibiscus tea such as vitamin C and A can effectively treat acne, scars, sunburns, eczema, and skin allergies.
Hibiscus Tea Precautions
Be sure not to combine hibiscus with Tylenol, or any other drug containing acetaminophen. The diuretic effect of the beverage may enhance the speed that releases acetaminophen from the body. Although there are plenty of health benefits of hibiscus tea, it is best to consult with your primary healthcare provider before using the herbal tea.
Hibiscus Tea Recipe
All the health benefits of hibiscus tea likely have you eager to try a cup for yourself. Here is a hibiscus tea recipe that you can make at home right now! You can also put it on ice if you find yourself in need of a cool drink during a hot day.
- 4 cups of pure filtered water
- 1/4 cup of dried organic hibiscus flowers
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of raw honey
- Lime wedges (optional)
- Fresh mint leaves (optional)
- Boil half of the filtered water in a small saucepan.
- Add the dried hibiscus flowers and then turn off the heat. Next, steep the liquid until it appears dark red.
- Add the remaining two cups of filtered water to the hot tea, and add the raw honey to achieve sweetness when the tea is still warm. You can drink the hibiscus tea hot as it stands. Hot hibiscus tea is also sometimes called Jamaica tea.
- As an option, pour the hibiscus tea into a pitcher for serving. Pour the tea into iced-filled glasses. If you like you can also garnish with mint and lime.
Hibiscus and Ginger Iced Tea Recipe
Want to try something a little different? The following hibiscus tea recipe with ginger is iced, and it will also have you ready for any warm day in the sun on a back porch.
- 4 cups of pure filtered water
- 3/4 cups of sugar or 1 tablespoon of raw honey
- 1/4 cup of dried organic hibiscus flowers
- 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
- Lemon wedges
- Add four cups of water along with ginger and sugar (or honey) to a medium pot; bring to a boil at medium to high heat. Stir until the sugar or honey has dissolved.
- Next, remove from the heat and add the dried organic hibiscus flowers. Then cover and steep the hibiscus tea for 15 minutes.
- Pour the mixture into a fine sieve and into a bowl of ice water. Let it stand until cool and stir in the fresh lemon juice.
- Serve the hibiscus ginger tea over crushed ice with a lemon wedge garnish.
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Sources for Today’s Article:
“Nutrition Facts Comparison Tool,” HealthAliciousNess.com; http://www.healthaliciousness.com/nutritionfacts/nutrition-comparison.php?o=14649&t=14649&h=&s=100&e=237.0&r=, last accessed July 31, 2015.
“How to Make Hibiscus Tea,” Holistic Squid web site; http://holisticsquid.com/hibiscus-tea/, last accessed July 31, 2015.
“Hibiscus-and-Ginger Iced Tea,” Martha Stewart web site; http://www.marthastewart.com/335634/hibiscus-and-ginger-iced-tea, last accessed July 31, 2015.