23 February 2016

Hibiscus sabdariffa, the drink

     Now I can drink hibiscus tea in Virginia. It's pricey in local Richmond stores, but I brought a pound back from Managua and that should keep me going until my next trip to False Bluff - where we now grow it.
     There are a lot of recipes and a lot of different ways of making the drink. I take the easiest and quickest route which is simply to boil the flowers about three minutes and then let them steep...fifteen minutes or so.  I often add ginger to either the hot drink or the cold; and sweeten to taste. 

     The drink looks like a good red wine or port. But reading articles, even serious ones, indicate hibiscus tea's good for lots of things. For instance, various studies show hibiscus sabdariffa is very high in antioxidants, that it has slight antibacterial effects and potential as a chemopreventative agent against tumor promotion. 
     In a study presented to the American Heart Association in 2008, researchers found that drinking three cups of hibiscus tea a day lowered blood pressure by as much as 13.2 percent in pre- and mildly hypertensive adults. Researchers have a few possible explanations for this. Hibiscus is a natural diuretic, it opens the arteries, and it may act as a natural angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, meaning that it slows the release of hormones that constrict blood vessels. 
     Hibiscus tea is not just another pretty face.