Hot weather remedy: Agua de Jamaica

Joder! Hace Calor!  Looking for a refreshing way to cool down? I recommend mixing up a pitcher of Agua de Jamaica, a simple and delicious hibiscus infusion.  Over the years, we have incorporated a number of dishes brought to us by our daughters’ babysitter, Julieta, who hails from Puebla, Mexico, and is an excellent cook.  In the summer months, she is never without several aguas frescas in her refrigerator and our kids can’t get enough of them.  So we have started to make them, too, as they are really easy and a nice alternative to juice and lemonade.

Most recipes for Agua de Jamaica direct you to boil the flowers first, then cool and strain them.  Although Julieta concedes this can be done if you are in a hurry, she insists that the best way to make it is to soak the flowers overnight in non-heated water.  Here is her method:

Take two cups of dried whole hibiscus flowers, which you can find in a health food store or order online here.


Add the hibiscus flowers to 8 cups of fresh, cold water.  Cover and let sit overnight.  In the morning, strain the flowers through a cheese-cloth lined sieve into a bowl.

What do you think of this arty photo depicting the pouring of the aqua into a nice glass pitcher? Don’t answer that.  But that is what you do next.  Here is where you can add a sweetener of your choice.  Most recipes call for 1/2 – 3/4 cup of sugar, but I think you can get by with a lot less.  Honey works, but it takes awhile to mix in.   If you are in Jamaica, you can add rum.  Frankly, at this point, you can doctor it up any way you wish, but it is really just excellent on its own, lightly sweetened, over ice.

Happy Hot Weekend!

2 c. dried hibiscus flowers

8 c. water

1/2-3/4 c. sugar, or sweetener of choice.


  1. #1 by Erika on July 22, 2011 - 3:40 pm

    I bet that would make a fantastic sorbet

  2. #2 by Gabriella on August 21, 2011 - 7:24 pm

    We call it carcadè, it was very popular when Italy had its colonies in Eritrea and now you can buy it readymade. I never thought of it as being made from real hibiscus petals!

  3. #3 by Crystal A. on March 14, 2012 - 3:36 am

    I’m also a big fan of hibiscus. I’m using one from Has anyone tried it?

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