Aguas Frescas are the Mexican answer to iced teas. Agua de jamaica is one of the more popular flavours, a sweet/sour ‘tea’ that refreshes on a hot Mexican afternoon.
The jamaica is a type of hibiscus flower, but it looks very different from a regular hibiscus.
The dried hibiscus calyxes are called ‘jamaica‘ (hah-MAI-ka) in Spanish.
- In our Mexican cooking class we made ‘Agua de Jamaica‘ by adding 2/3 cup dried flower calyxes to 3 cups water and simmering for 15 minutes.
- After simmering, the jamaica (hibiscus) infusion was strained and sugar added to taste. It was served in ‘jarros‘ with lots of ice.
When I make jamaica at home I usually brew it very strong and then put it in a mason jar in the fridge. This way it doesn’t take up very much space, and when I want a drink I just add an inch or two of the concentrated tea to a glass along with ice cubes and club soda.
Health benefits: according to several people I met in Mexico, jamaica brings down high blood pressure and, like other red drinks such as cranberry juice, detoxifies the blood.
Even if you can’t find the dried jamaica flowers anywhere you can usually find hibiscus tea. Celestial Seasonings ‘Lemon Zinger’ also has hibiscus in it, and makes a zippy iced tea.
Cultural note: In Jamaica (the country) they call Jamaica (the plant) ‘sorrel’. There they brew it up as above, but instead of sugar they add ginger syrup, and along with the ice cubes, lime and a splash of rum!
If you want to practice your Spanish we put up a video about the Jamaica on our Soleducational Youtube site.
To practice your Spanish, and find out more about other ‘aguas frescas’ go to our Spanish course website: http://www.soleducational.com/estudiantes/modulos/modulo_1/m1_aguas_frescas.html