Hibiscus Tea: Health Benefits and How to Brew Properly

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Hibiscus tea is a an herbal tea that’s caffeine-free. See health benefits and how to properly brew this bright red tea properly, step-by-step, with expert tips from a certified Tea Sommelier.

Hot hibiscus tea in a glass mug.

What is Hibiscus Tea?

  • Hibiscus tea is an herbal, caffeine-free drink made from steeping dried hibiscus calyces (the part of the plant that supports the petals and protect the bud) in water.
  • The tea is naturally red. The bright red hibiscus colors the water and flavors it. The hibiscus plant is known for its large, bright colored flowers and it is grown in regions with tropical temperatures.
  • Always use food-grade hibiscus to make sure they weren’t treated with pesticides.

RELATED: Simple Homemade Hibiscus Syrup

6 Health Benefits of Hibiscus tea

1. Provides Antioxidants

Hibiscus tea is an excellent source of antioxidants, according to a 2018 scientific article. This includes compounds like polyphenols and anthocyanins, which can help reduce oxidative stress in the body. This is important because oxidative stress may increase the risk of chronic conditions, like heart disease and cancer, over time. 

2. Reduces High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a major risk factor for heart disease but beverages like hibiscus tea can help. In a 2019 study, people with hypertension experienced lower blood pressure after drinking hibiscus tea twice a day for one month. A 2022 scientific review of 13 studies also found that hibiscus can lower high blood pressure in those with mild to moderate hypertension.

3. Manages Healthy Blood Cholesterol Levels

Another hibiscus tea benefit involves blood cholesterol. Like hypertension, high blood cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to a 2019 scientific review, the antioxidants in hibiscus may help lower blood cholesterol levels.

4. Offers Antiviral Properties

A 2020 study found that hibiscus can work against some viruses. According to the researchers, this is related to the polyphenols and anthocyanins in the plant. A 2019 study notes that hibiscus tea extract has antiviral activities against certain viruses that cause the flu.

5. Reduces High Blood Sugar

According to a 2021 scientific review, hibiscus has been found to reduce high blood sugar levels. This is noteworthy because high blood sugar can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

6. Supports Immune Function

Hibiscus is rich in vitamin C, a nutrient that’s essential for healthy immune function. It stimulates white blood cells, which are cells that fight disease-causing germs. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, meaning it works against oxidative stress.

4 Side Effects of Hibiscus Tea

1. Low Blood Pressure
Studies have found that hibiscus tea may lower blood pressure. If you’re prone to low blood pressure or taking blood pressure-lowering medications, talk to your doctor before drinking hibiscus tea.

2. Low Blood Sugar
Hibiscus has been shown to lower blood sugar in studies. If you have low blood sugar or are taking medications that lower blood sugar, ask your doctor if it’s safe to drink hibiscus tea.

3. Allergies
It’s possible to be allergic to hibiscus. Use caution if you’re allergic to ragweed pollen, chamomile tea, artichoke, banana, watermelon, melons, and zucchini. These plants share allergy-causing proteins with hibiscus.

4. Estrogenic Effects
Hibiscus contains compounds that have estrogenic properties, meaning they have an estrogen-like effect in the body. If you’re pregnant or have other reproductive health concerns, talk to your doctor before consuming hibiscus tea.

RELATED: Starbucks Iced Passion Tango Tea Copycat

Hibiscus Loose Tea vs Tea Bags

Hibiscus loose tea and hibiscus in tea bag.

The more of the whole hibiscus calyces you can see, the better the quality. Loose hibiscus tea is higher quality since you can see the shape of the flower calyces.

Hibiscus tea bags are of lower quality since they’re filled with crushed hibiscus.

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Step-by-Step Brewing Instructions

Four photo collage showing steps to make hibiscus tea.

For complete brewing guide, full ingredients, and instructions, scroll to the bottom.

  1. Boil water.
    Using an electric kettle with temperature settings to boil water for tea makes it easy to get the water temperature just right. Boil more than needed since you want extra to warm up the teapot.
  2. Warm up teapot.
    Pour some hot water into the teapot and swirl it around a bit. Discard the water.
  3. Put dried hibiscus into the teapot and add hot water. Cover teapot and steep.
  4. Strain hibiscus solids and pour hot tea into a teacup.

Tea Sommelier’s Tips

Use good quality water.
The better the water, the better the tea. I recommend using filtered water.

Warm up the teapot.
Warming up the teapot helps to brew the tea properly, keeping the water temperature hot.

Serve it with or without sugar.
Hibiscus tea can be served with or without sugar and hot or iced. If you want to sweeten hot tea, you can use any kind of sweetener.

Adjust as needed.
For a stronger cup of hibiscus tea, add a couple of more minutes to your steep time or add 1/2 teaspoon more of hibiscus.

Herbal teas don’t get bitter like green tea.
Herbal teas like hibiscus are a lot easier to brew than other types of teas since it doesn’t get overly bitter if brewed for more than 5 minutes so don’t worry if it steeps for longer.

Brew it in a glass teapot.
Use a glass teapot to make herbal tea so you can see the pretty herbals in water.

Store it properly.
Hibiscus tea can be brewed and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Keep it covered or airtight glass container or pitcher.

Loose dried hibiscus and tea sachets should be stored in an airtight container away from light, odors, humidity, and heat.

RELATED: Lavender Tea

Questions You May Have

How do you pronounce hibiscus?

Hibiscus is pronounced HIGH-BISS-KUSS. You can also say HEE-BISS-KUSS but that’s the British English pronunciation.

What does hibiscus tea taste like?

It tastes a little tart, like a mild cranberry.

Is there caffeine?

No, there is no caffeine in hibiscus tea. 

Did you make this and love it? Please leave a 5-star rating below or a review in the comments section.

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Hibiscus Tea

Author: Jee Choe
How to brew hibiscus tea properly to make the perfect cup every time. 
4.7 from 24 votes
Prep Time 2 mins
Steep Time 5 mins
Total Time 7 mins
Course Drinks
Yield1 serving

INGREDIENTS
 

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Boil water.
    If using an electric kettle with temperature setting, set it to 208°F. Boil a little more water than needed so that it can be used to warm up the teapot. Filtered water is best.
  • Warm up teapot.
    Pour some hot water into a teapot and swirl it around. Discard the water.
    Warming up the teapot is an extra step that all tea professionals take the time to do, so that when the tea steeps, the water temperature won't drop drastically.
  • Put hibiscus tea into the teapot and add hot water. Cover teapot and steep for 5 minutes.
  • Strain hibiscus flowers and pour hot tea into a teacup.

NOTES

 
  • Use loose tea instead of tea bags for a better quality cup of tea.
  • For a stronger cup of hibiscus tea, add a couple of more minutes to your steep time or add 1/2 teaspoon more of hibiscus.
  • Use a glass teapot to make herbal tea so you can see the pretty herbals in water.
  • Hibiscus tea can be served with or without sugar. If you want to sweeten hot tea, you can use any kind of sweetener from sugar to date syrup, but for sweetening iced tea, always use simple syrup since it’ll be the easiest to mix into a cold drink.
  • Herbal teas like hibiscus are a lot easier to brew than other types of teas since it doesn’t get overly bitter if brewed for more than 5 minutes so don’t worry if it steeps for longer.
  • Hibiscus is often used in drinks to naturally color it pink.
  • Hibiscus tea can be brewed and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Keep it covered or airtight glass container or pitcher.
  • Loose dried hibiscus and tea sachets should be stored in an airtight container away from light, odors, humidity, and heat.

NUTRITION

Calories: 3 | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 12mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Iron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Mention @ohhowcivilized and use hashtag #ohhowcivilized!

21 thoughts on “Hibiscus Tea: Health Benefits and How to Brew Properly”

  1. 5 stars
    I love cold tea I have been drinking it for a few years I just put the hibiscus in water and let it for a few hours or half day then strain it and sweeten it with Sevia and I drink it all day Raquel Salas

    Reply
  2. My husband got me drinking this. I didn’t know what it was and have been calling it flower water. I finally asked tonight and they told me the Spanish name (they are mexican). I love drinking it. Had no idea of all the properties of it. I normally put some water in a saucepan, add flowers, bring to a boil, let sit for a minute, then pour into a measure cup with 2 chipsof sugar, stir, pour into gallon jug, and add cold water. Shake jug after filed to stir up sugar. Husband loves it sweet. I have to add more water to mine to lose some of the sweetness.

    Reply
  3. 5 stars
    I loves this tea I drink it cold and hot thanks for the info on sweeten with simple syrup never thought of that.

    Reply
  4. I like to make cold brew hibiscus tea and add some lime juice and sweeten it with raw cane sugar, served with lots if ice which is the Mexican drink “Agua de Jamaica”. Tastes so good.

    Reply
  5. I follow your steeping procedure, but I add dry mint leaves and cinnamon powder. No sugar or any sweetener added. It tastes good and refreshing. Is what I did alright?

    Reply
    • Hi Urmila, the powder is like a concentrate so it’ll be very tart if you use too much. I would use 1/8 teaspoon at a time and taste and add more powder if needed.

      Reply
  6. I love hibiscus tea. I hot brew mine and then put it in a container in the fridge (usually over night) so I can drink it cold. When I drink mine, I add a little french vanilla creamer and it gives it a sweet and tart taste to it. It’s delicious. Thank you for promoting hibiscus tea!!

    Reply
  7. I love hibiscus! I will have to try from the list you gave us. I’ve always pronounced the “hi” in hibiscus like saying “inhibit” or “hit.” Apparently I like to be different!

    Reply
    • 5 stars
      Isn’t that how you’re supposed to say it? That’s how I say it too. I like to just cold brew it in 1/2G mason jar in fridge. My son likes it with cinnamon, so I put up to a whole stick in there with the flowers.

      Reply
  8. What a lovely article! I must say that I have recently re-discovered my love hibiscus, after having tried it in loose leaf form. I just feel like it tastes much more mild and sweet than the tart tea bag version.
    Also, can I just say your recipes and your photos are absolutely gorgeous! Big fan!

    Reply

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