Drink to Your Health — And Our History — With Hibiscus
Folks call it bissap in Senegal, zobo in Nigeria, sorrel in Jamaica and flor de jamaica in Mexico.
For more than 6,000 years, people have relied on recipes using the plant Hibiscus sabdariffa, or roselle, to satiate hunger and quench thirst. To make delightful jams, sauces and teas, traditionalists harvest the calyx—the bright, bulbous cup at the base of the flower. Then they boil the calyxes with seasonings and sweeteners.
But prepared hibiscus products and dried calyxes are increasingly available. The vibrant plant, indigenous to Sudan, was cultivated throughout the Americas by enslaved Africans. Caribbean sorrel and Black American “red drink,” once connected with Christmastime and emancipation, are a cultural mainstay now enjoyed year-round.
The tart and tangy tea is rich in antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamin C and anthocyanin, which destroy harmful free radicals in the body. Plus, hibiscus has anti-inflammatory properties that may lower blood fat levels and blood pressure. (Note: Those who are pregnant or lactating should avoid hibiscus.)
What’s tradition for us is becoming popular for others. Hibiscus shows up on many food- and beverage-industry lists as a top trend for 2022. Today it’s in recipes for everything from shortbread to cocktails. As Black-owned businesses, such as Iya Foods, celebrate our connection with this superfood, they invoke centuries of Black joy, ingenuity and survival.
Perhaps you’ll make it a healthy part of a DIY spa day or a create-and-sip party with friends. The fruity, floral flavor may inspire you and your girls to treasure special moments all year long.
We included Iya Foods’ Dried Hibiscus Flower Powder in our summer 2022 box. The Luxe & Luminous Collection encourages joy and inspiration in your day-to-day life and to help you celebrate yourself. Subscribe today!
This article originally appeared in Luxe & Luminous Collection's mini magazine, Sisters From AARP mini magazine (Summer 2022).