Jamaica Agua Fresca

If all the talk about how bad soda is for you is getting you down, you could switch to an easy-to-make alternative that tastes exotic and is loaded with vitamin C.


Dried hibiscus flowers taste weird and good. You might remember a version from your old hippie days called Red Zinger (yes, I was there, too.) In Egypt, I had it as “Karkade ” only it was sweeter and denser than the Mexican version.


Take about a cup of dried hibiscus flowers and place them in a small stock pot. Add about a cup of sugar (or a cone of piloncillo), fill with water and bring to a boil. Allow it to steep and then strain it. Add some lime juice and more sugar or water if needed.  Cool and serve. I like to add some canela/cinnamon as well but I’m a very daring sort of person.  You could also top it off with a little fizzy water but let’s end our creativity right there.

4 Comments on Jamaica Agua Fresca

  1. Add some tequila and a spritz of lime and you have a great summer cocktail!

  2. There’s also a Jamaican version of this, (though they call it “Sorrel Punch”,) which involves ginger, spices, and optional rum. Quite nice, but, I prefer the uncluttered Mexican recipes.

  3. That sounds and looks divine (especially the idea of a cocktail made with it, even though you called for an end to “creativity”…so much for Artful Living, man). I was a big Red Zinger fan back in the day.

    Now I really must place an RG order; all this talk of Pebble Beans, Giant Limas, Gay Caballeros, Hibiscus flower. Nevermind that the larder is bare, BARE, I tell you, of Yellow Indian Women.

  4. A few years ago the NY Times magazine had a story called something like “The Next Big Taste,” in which a group of food experts gave the predictions about the next trends that we would see. One of the trends was supposed to be fire plus sweetness, and so the Times had a recipe for habanero-hibiscus punch. To make it, a roasted and peeled habanero chile is steeped along with the hibiscus flowers to provide heat to go with the sweetness and sourness. I made it once and it was wild.

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