Get ready to enjoy a glass of the most beautiful ruby red iced tea you’ve ever seen. Hibiscus Iced Tea (Agua de Jamaica) is an herbal tea with hints of tart tropical fruit flavor. Made with dried hibiscus flowers or store-bought tea bags, it’s naturally caffeine-free and packed with antioxidants. Serve it over ice with a squeeze of lime juice and enjoy!
There is nothing better than a cold glass of iced tea on a hot day, especially if that tea is easy to make, has a beautiful floral fragrance, and is an eye-catching ruby red color. This easy drink is beloved by my entire household and dinner guests throughout the winter months. It has a subtle tropical flavor and none of the bitterness of other varieties of iced tea. And because it’s caffeine-free, even kids can enjoy it.
You’ve got a few options when it comes to how to make this delicious, tropical-inspired tea. You can steep the dried hibiscus flowers directly in the hot water, or use store-bought hibiscus tea bags. Both methods use petals from hibiscus flowers to give the tea its unique flavor and bright color.
In place of sugar, we use sweeteners like apple juice, lemonade, or ginger ale for a taste that is slightly sweet, but doesn’t alter the unique flavor of the tea. But this has such a pleasant flavor that it is great even without sweetener if you prefer a sugar-free option.
And if you’re looking to up your refreshing summer drink game, a few other great options to serve over ice are authentic Thai iced tea, watermelon lime coolers, or a cold brew coffee spritzer.
What is Agua de Jamaica?
Agua de Jamaica (or just “Jamaica”) is the Spanish name for hibiscus iced tea. This ruby red, tart herbal tea is popular at Mexican taquerias and is incredibly easy to make at home.
What is Hibiscus?
Hibiscus are warm climate flowering plants found in tropical regions around the world. There are hundreds of varieties, and dozens of colors of hibiscus flowers, but the most common hibiscus color is red. Dried hibiscus flowers can be used in lots of different ways including in hot and cold teas, punches, jams and jellies, and cocktails.
How to Make Hibiscus Tea
- Brew the tea. Steep the tea bags or hibiscus flowers for 10 minutes in hot water.
- Remove the tea bags / leaves. If using tea bags, gently remove them from the hot water and discard. Don’t squeeze them or the tea may turn bitter. If using hibiscus flower leaves, strain the tea through a coffee filter or cheesecloth and discard the leaves.
- Chill the tea. Allow the tea to cool, and then refrigerate until chilled.
- Add the sweetener. Stir in apple juice, lemonade, or ginger ale. If using ginger ale, wait to add it until right before serving so it stays carbonated.
- Garnish and serve. Pour over ice and garnish.
- Water - Use filtered water for the best tasting hibiscus tea.
- Hibiscus Tea or Dried Hibiscus Flowers - These should be available at most grocery stores. Be sure to get dried hibiscus flowers (not powder) like these. Or look for Red Zinger tea bags.
- Apple Juice, Lemonade, or Ginger Ale - To sweeten the tea while adding a touch of fruit, ginger, or zingy citrus flavor. This is totally optional - feel free to skip it for an unsweetened tea.
- Mint Leaves and Lime Wedges - A few sprigs of mint and a piece of bright green lime add a subtle minty fresh taste and a vibrant zip.
- Take care to allow the warm tea to come to room temperature before you add it to your pitcher. Some materials, like glass, can crack and break if you add a hot liquid to them and then refrigerate.
- Don’t steep the tea for more than 10 minutes and don’t squeeze the tea bags or leaves after steeping. This can cause the tea to turn bitter.
- Infuse with spice - In some countries, hibiscus-based drinks are made with spices like cloves and cinnamon. Try boiling the water with a cinnamon stick or two for cinnamon hibiscus tea.
- Garnish with edible flowers - For an extra tropical presentation, garnish the tea with a few bright edible flowers. You will find these in the produce section next to the herbs.
- Lemon juice - Lemon juice is a great alternative to lime juice in the tea and adds an extra tart, bright flavor.
This is great just about any way you serve it. You can sweeten it up and serve it cold for a refreshing drink on a warm summer day, or warm the tea in a mug for a cozy cup of comfort.
Like most teas, this is not naturally sweet; instead, it has a tangy, almost tart taste. What’s great about this tea is that you can create different flavors based on what you like. Adding lemonade to the tea gives it a citrusy taste, while adding a little apple juice makes it more fruit forward. Ginger ale is a great addition for some fun fizz, and a sweet gingery flavor.
More Fun Drink Recipes
- Blackberry Smoothie
- Passionfruit Spritzer
- Two-Ingredient Green Smoothie
- Mango Lassie
- Strawberry Almond Oatmeal Smoothie
Hibiscus Iced Tea
- Kettle or Saucepan
- 8 cups water
- 8 bags hibiscus tea (like Red Zinger) or 3 Tablespoons dried hibiscus flowers
- 2 cups apple juice, lemonade, or ginger ale (see note)
- mint leaves and lime wedges, for garnish
- In a kettle or saucepan, bring water to a boil.
- When water is boiling, move it off the heat and add tea bags or hibiscus flowers. Let bags / flowers steep for 10 minutes and then remove.
- Let the tea cool until it can be transferred to a pitcher. Refrigerate until chilled.
- Just before serving, stir in apple juice, lemonade, or ginger ale.
- Serve tea over ice garnished with mint and lime wedges.
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