Make Your Own Hibiscus Sweet Tea
Sweet, smooth and refreshing, sweet tea is known as the beloved beverage of the South. The iced drink is growing in popularity throughout the rest of the country—and luckily, it’s easy to make at home! Typically made with black iced tea, the addition of hibiscus to your sweet tea provides a punchy, tart flavor and beautiful color, making it perfect for that summer party you keep meaning to throw. Before we dive in, let’s talk fun facts:
Sweet Tea: While you can certainly add sugar to any iced tea, the key to Southern-style sweet tea is to make it “presweetened” by dissolving the sugar in hot tea as you make it, then letting it cool. Historically, sweet iced tea drinks have been around since at least the 19th century, when tea punch beverages were popular. For a long time, iced tea, and especially sweetened iced tea, was seen as a luxury since both sugar and ice were hard to come by. Contrary to what you might expect, sweetened iced tea was actually born in the North since there was easier access to ice at the time. Southerners developed a taste for the icy treat, and the rest is history.
Hibiscus: Hibiscus flowers have been used in teas, beverages and herbal medicine around the world for hundreds of years. It’s even rumored that the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt enjoyed hot hibiscus tea! Herbal tea is made by simply steeping the dried plant in hot water, producing a bright fuchsia color that can also be used as a floral dye when highly concentrated. Hibiscus has an intense, cranberry-like tartness when steeped, so it’s typically tempered with sugar or simple syrup, making it a perfect complement for sweet tea.
With a little background under our belts, let’s get going:
Hibiscus Sweet Tea
Prep time: 3 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Ready in: 2-3 hours
Yields: 4-6 servings
- 8 cups water
- 1 tsp (5ml) dried hibiscus leaves
- 5-6 black tea bags (try Pure Leaf Iced Black Tea with Raspberry to reinforce and enhance this recipe’s fruity notes!)
- ½ – 1 cup sugar
- To serve: 2 cups ice
- To serve: lemon wedges (optional)
1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
2. Add hibiscus leaves and tea bags, allow to steep for 3 minutes, or to taste.
3. Strain out leaves and tea bags, turn off heat and pour hibiscus tea into a heat-safe pitcher.
4. Add sugar to taste, stirring until fully dissolved.
5. Add 6 cups cold water, refrigerate 2-3 hours until cold.
6. Serve over ice with an optional lemon wedge for a refreshing twist.