Glass of roselle-lemon tea with pieces of cut calyx nearby.
Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is a tangy red drink very high in vitamin C. the drink can be drunk warm or cold and goes by the names, hibiscus tea, Sudan tea and red sorrel, among others.
Benito Mussolini popularized the drink in Europe, drinking it with a squeeze of lemon for added zesty aroma. I used Mussolini’s recipe in the drink you see on the left. Both roselle and lemon are very high in Vitamin C a nutrient acknowledged as an immune booster and antioxidant. Drink it after meals to aid digestion. Indians uses a decoction of the seeds to dispel mild cases of dyspepsia.
The color of the concentrate is maroon like the color of the calyx (see photo above)
• 500 gm. Fresh Roselle calyx
• 6 to 7 slices of raw cane sugar
1. Wash 500 gm. Roselle calyx clean.
2. Soak calyx in clean water. Have an extra 2 to 3 cm of water to cover calyx.
3. After an hour of soaking, cut calyx into smaller pieces and use a food processor to pulverize them. Include the water the fruits are soaked in.
4. Boil pulverized calyx. When water to boil, turn down heat to simmer.
5. After water has turned a rich maroon color, add in raw cane sugar.
6. Occasionally stir the simmering juice to help the sugar to dissolve.
7. Turn off heat after all sugar has dissolved and strain out fruit residue. Squeeze out as much juice as you can.
8. Store juice concentrate in jars. Close the jar covers firmly after contents has cooled and refrigerate.
Although roselle tea tastes great, it does not have any fragrance. This makes it wonderful as food coloring when one does not want to mask the aroma of the food itself.
If you want to add fragrance to your tea, include spices or fragrant herbs. Some traditional favorites are ginger, clove, cinnamon, star anise and nutmeg. These warming spices work synergistically with roselle to speed up circulation, reduce inflammation, dispel wind, aid digestion, and fight infection as well as lower high cholesterol and blood pressure.
A roselle-malva flower blend calms and soothes stomach and intestinal irritation.
Roselle juice, with salt, pepper, asafetida and molasses, is taken as a remedy for biliousness.
Relieve cough by sipping a warm cup of roselle-honey tea. It has immune-boosting, anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
Another popular combination is roselle-rose hips. Rose hips is said to be high in Vitamin C (ranging from 0.03 to 1.3 %.); but roselle thumped rose hips with 14%. Both are high in antioxidants but roselle has the powerful, medically significant compound anthocyanins. Antioxidants have been shown in several studies to enhance nitric oxide production in the body, reducing blood pressure and oxidized lipids. Antioxidants have also reduced cancer promotion in several studies.
My family occasionally drinks roselle when the calyx is available in the fresh market. It whets our appetite and provides fond memories until the next fruiting season.
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