Hibiscus perfectly warms, saturates the body with antioxidants and can reduce blood pressure.
- What you need to know
- How to brew
- Expert comments
Yaroslav Klyuchevsky, chef of the highest category, brand chef, crisis manager;
Alexandra Razorenova, dietitian, nutritionist, therapist, member of the European Union of Nutritionists, Dieticians and Food Industry Specialists.
What is hibiscus
When brewed, rosella turns the water a bright burgundy color.
Hibiscus is a hot or cold drink that consists of water and the dried sepals (outer part of the flower) of rosella. This plant is called Hibiscus sabdariffa in Latin and belongs to the genus Hibiscus. It originates from North Africa and Southeast Asia, and is now common in many countries with tropical and subtropical climates. When brewed, rosella turns the water a bright burgundy color. Hibiscus tea has a rich, tart, slightly sour taste, slightly reminiscent of cranberries. Hibiscus belongs to the category of herbal teas, which are prepared from various plants, herbs and spices. In many countries, such a drink cannot be called tea because it is not obtained from the Camellia sinensis tea plant.
There are several hundred species of hibiscus, varying in properties depending on the location and climate in which they grow. Rosella is most often used for brewing (1). Hibiscus is especially loved in Egypt, where it is also called the drink of the pharaohs and the “rose of Sudan.”
Benefits of hibiscus tea: 3 properties
You should not use hibiscus as a medicine, especially if you are taking medications for hypertension.
Hibiscus tea was previously used in African countries to reduce body temperature, treat heart disease and relieve sore throats. In Iran, it is used to treat high blood pressure. Hibiscus tea contains many antioxidants and has a positive effect on cardiovascular health.
1. Enriches with microelements
Hibiscus, from which hibiscus tea is made, contains many antioxidants. Antioxidants protect cells from free radicals (2). Several studies have found that an infusion of hibiscus extract can reduce oxidative stress and increase antioxidant levels in the blood. But more information is needed because the experiments used extract, not hibiscus tea (3), (4).
The drink also contains calcium, phosphorus, iron, niacin, riboflavin and vitamin C (5), which promotes tissue growth and repair, collagen formation, and wound healing. It can also strengthen the immune system.
Anthocyanins are responsible for the rich burgundy color of the drink. They help prevent various chronic diseases.
2. Reduces blood pressure
High blood pressure has a negative impact on your well-being: it puts stress on the heart and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease (6). One study involved 46 people with diagnosed hypertension. They were divided into two groups: one was given hibiscus tea, and the other was given a placebo. After a month, the first group that drank tea had a greater reduction in blood pressure than those who took a placebo (7). But you should not use the drink as a medicine, especially if you are taking medications for hypertension. You should consult your doctor.
3. Reduces triglyceride levels in the blood
Triglycerides are fats that provide energy to cells. But their high levels can lead to various cardiovascular diseases. One experiment involved 60 people with diabetes, who were divided into two groups: one was given regular black tea, the other was given hibiscus tea. Those who drank hibiscus tea had higher levels of HDL (“good” cholesterol) and decreased levels of total cholesterol, LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and triglycerides after one month (8).
Recent research shows that hibiscus tea lowers LDL cholesterol levels more effectively than other types of tea or placebo (9).
However, the experiments involved mainly people with metabolic syndrome and diabetes, so more information is needed to draw definitive conclusions.
Contraindications for drinking hibiscus tea
Hibiscus tea contains estrogens, which affect pregnancy and can cause premature birth.
Rosella tea is usually not harmful to health in small doses. But in some cases it is contraindicated. If you are taking certain medications, you should consult your doctor.
1. Allergy to hibiscus and mallow
You should not drink hibiscus tea if you have a diagnosed allergy to hibiscus or plants of the malvaceae family.
2. Drug interactions
Hibiscus tea affects the functioning of the cardiovascular system. Therefore, if you are taking medications for hypertension or diabetes, you should not drink this drink: it can lead to a significant drop in blood pressure. Hibiscus tea also reduces the effectiveness of contraceptives and anti-malaria medications.
3. Pregnancy and lactation period
Hibiscus tea contains estrogens, which affect pregnancy. They can cause premature birth. Also, you should not drink hibiscus during lactation.
4. Effects on the liver
Strongly brewed drink in large quantities negatively affects the functioning of the liver and can lead to various diseases.
There are many types of hibiscus, and not all of them are suitable for brewing drinks based on them. Therefore, you should buy hibiscus only from reliable manufacturers.
How to brew hibiscus tea correctly
Long-term infusion will make the drink more tart, aromatic and rich
There are no universal recipes for making hibiscus tea. Strength level, temperature, sweetness and other additives can be varied depending on preference. Hibiscus tea contains no calories or caffeine. It can be served hot or with ice, and lemonades and cocktails can be made from it. Long-term infusion will make the drink more tart, aromatic and rich. To make the hibiscus less sour, you can add more water and brew for no longer than 2-3 minutes. Also, the taste depends on the form of release: by weight, in bags or in the form of hibiscus extract. The drink should be served in a ceramic, porcelain or glass cup; metal utensils will affect the taste.