Hibiscus tea is an extremely popular tea that has been consumed all over the world. A part of many traditions and festivals, this tea has been around for a great number of years. It has a naturally tart flavour with a beautiful fragrance. Its popularity might also have something to do with the many health benefits one can garner by drinking the tea.
Known as agua de flor de Jamaica, hibiscus tea is popular in is popular in Mexico, Central America, and parts of South America and the Caribbean. Grouped in the category of aguas frescas, which are inexpensive beverages typically made from fresh juices or extracts, it is usually prepared by steeping the petals, along with ginger , in boiling water, straining the mixture, pressing the petals (to squeeze all the juice out), adding sugar, sometimes clove, cinnamon and a little rum, and stirring.
In Africa, Karkadé is served hot or chilled with ice. It is highly popular in some parts of North Africa, especially in Egypt and Sudan. The hibiscus from Upper Egypt and Sudan is considered a prized commodity. It is prepared by soaking the hibiscus petals in cold water for a few days and then straining the liquid. Hibiscus tea is sold commonly on the streets of many African countries. The dried flowers are also easily available in the markets as variations of the drink are popular all across Africa. Known as bissap in Senegal, it is the country’s national drink.
Commonly prepared as a cold beverage in Thailand, hibiscus tea is known as roselle. It is heavily sweetened and is quite similar to sweetened fruit juice. It is sold outside most schools and local markets in plastic bags full of ice and the sweetened tea. In Italy hibiscus tea, known as carcadè or Italian tea, is usually drunk hot, often with the addition of sugar and lemon juice.
Recently, there has been a flurry of scientific activity surrounding the hibiscus plant. A small burst of research studies have been published regarding hibiscus - especially in regards to cholesterol and blood pressure maintenance. Cholesterol maintenance
In 2009, a trial studied hibiscus’s ability to support cholesterol maintenance, in people concerned with healthy blood sugar levels. Sixty subjects, mostly women, were given either one cup of hibiscus tea or black tea twice per day. After one month, hibiscus was able to help maintain total, LDL, and HDL cholesterol levels — as well as triglycerides — already within a healthy range. Black tea, on the other hand, only impacted HDL levels.
A larger trial, in 222 adults, was published on hibiscus in 2010. The subjects — about a third of whom had metabolic challenges — were randomly assigned to one of three groups: a healthy diet, hibiscus, or a healthy diet plus hibiscus. Those with metabolic challenges experienced several benefits from hibiscus, including cholesterol maintenance. Similar effects on supporting normal blood sugar were also noted. Blood pressure maintenance
A trial comparing hibiscus to black tea among people seeking to support healthy blood sugar levels was published in 2009. Subjects were randomly assigned to drink one cup of hibiscus tea or black tea two times per day for one month. Hibiscus tea demonstrated a maintenance effect on systolic (but not diastolic) blood pressure, while black tea did not.
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