With the increasing summer heat, my obsession for refreshing herbal beverages grows right alongside it. There’s nothing quite like a cooling drink after an afternoon in the garden or while sitting next to my favorite lake. My latest obsession is this hibiscus syrup, which I combine with fizzy water.
I’ve been making this recipe for the past two months and I can honestly say that in that short time period, I’ve made it countless times. I’ve gone through pounds of hibiscus. Yes, pounds.
I’ve brought the hibiscus syrup to many parties and have made numerous drink variations from mocktails to cocktails. Every time it’s a huge hit with excited requests for the recipe. It’s been so loved that I knew I had to share it with you!
Here’s a closer look at the simple, yet powerful, herbal ingredients.
Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
Hibiscus is an obvious choice during hot weather months. Originally from northern Africa, this ruby wonder is famed for its ability to cool and calm summer heat. It’s both tart and refreshing, helping you to quench thirst and rehydrate. It’s also a demulcent, which soothes dryness and restores moisture throughout the body.
That alone could qualify it as an important herb, but hibiscus has so many gifts!
Hibiscus is widely used to support both heart health and to address metabolic issues like type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance.
There’s even been some interesting human studies showing its wide range of benefits.
- Both hibiscus tea and green tea were shown to significantly decrease systolic and diastolic blood pressure in individuals who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and were mildly hypertensive.1
- In one trial, 40 adult patients with metabolic syndrome were either given 500 mg of hibiscus calyx powder or a placebo. After four weeks, those taking the hibiscus powder had significantly reduced triglycerides and reduced systolic blood pressure compared to those taking the placebo.2
- In addition to benefiting people with high blood pressure, hibiscus extracts have been shown to positively affect blood lipids by reducing total cholesterol and triglyceride levels.3 4 5
- In another small study, hibiscus was shown to be more effective than a commonly prescribed diuretic for lowering blood pressure.6
- In one trial conducted on 54 male soccer players, hibiscus tea extract was shown to decrease negative oxidative stress and increase total antioxidant capacity.7
Hibiscus is commonly referred to as a flower, but it’s actually the calyxes that are commonly used for teas in the US. The calyxes are the fleshy red parts that form behind the cream-colored flower and are harvested after the flower has wilted.
It’s important to know what you are using. There are many plants that are commonly called hibiscus; however they are not interchangeable with Hibiscus sabdariffa.
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
Fresh mint sings of summer months with its aromatic and cooling virtues.
While often considered simply as a garnish or even a candy flavoring, mints are revered in the herbal world for their valuable medicinal properties. This is powerful medicine that also tastes great!
Peppermint is a relaxing herb that can be used as an antispasmodic for relieving tension headaches, intestinal cramps, and even menstrual cramps. If you have a nervous stomach or are feeling queasy, peppermint tea is an easy way to soothe the discomfort.
Peppermint is also a lovely drink to perk up in the hot afternoons. In her book Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide, Rosemary Gladstar writes, “Peppermint is often referred to as ‘a blast of green energy.’ It renews, refreshes, and energizes without depleting or using up energy reserves.”
For this recipe you can substitute any delicious mint such as spearmint or hybrids like chocolate mint.
I sweeten this hibiscus syrup with honey. I am so lucky to have a beekeeping friend who tends to hives just beyond my garden. This time of year, the bees are happily frolicking from flower to flower – the garden vibrates with the sound of them! I love knowing that the honey I relish was made from bees visiting my medicinal herb garden!
If you don’t have a hive in your yard, look for honey sold locally from small-scale beekeepers. Farmers markets are a good way to find local beekeepers. Health food stores often stock local honey as well.
I often choose honey over sugar because honey is loaded with nutrients and health benefits and it couldn’t get more local to me! This recipe isn’t picky, though; you could use any type of sweetener you prefer.
Hibiscus Mint Syrup
Brew up this ruby syrup in minutes and then use it to instantly create many different summer herbal drinks and treats. Both beautiful and delicious, this hibiscus syrup recipe will please everyone and is great for summer barbecues and parties.
What you’ll need…
- 1/2 cup cut and sifted hibiscus (50 grams)
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
- Roughly 1/2 cup honey
- Add the hibiscus and water to a small saucepan.
- Bring the water to a boil. Then cover and turn off the heat. Let sit for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the fresh mint and let sit for an additional 5 minutes.
- While the mixture is still warm, add honey to taste.* Stir until the honey is dissolved.
- Cover with a tight-fitting lid and store in the fridge.
Yield: 2 cups
*A note on preservation: The more honey you add, the longer the storage life. If you add an equal amount of honey, say approximately 2 cups, you will end up with a very stable syrup that will last for many months in the fridge. I personally find this way too sweet. I add about 1/2 cup of honey and use the mixture within the week. Discard the syrup if it grows mold.
Ideas for Using Hibiscus Syrup
- Simple drink: Mix with fizzy water or still water to create an instant refreshing drink. I add about 1 tablespoon per 10 ounces of water. Add more or less depending on your taste.
- Mocktail: Add the syrup, fizzy water, and a squirt of lime to a glass filled with ice cubes. Stir well and add a sprig of mint. Optional: begin by muddling fresh berries in the glass.
- Cocktail: Add the syrup, fizzy water, one shot of spirits (vodka or gin), and a squirt of lime to a glass filled with ice cubes. Stir well and add a sprig of mint. Optional: begin by muddling fresh berries in the glass.
- Popsicles: Mix 1/3 cup of the syrup with 16 ounces of full-fat coconut milk and then freeze into popsicles. This makes a delicious pink popsicle that adults and kids will enjoy. Optional: add fresh berries.
- Dessert: Drizzle the syrup over vanilla ice cream. Yum! Take it up a notch to make a hibiscus mint float by pouring fizzy water over the ice cream and syrup.
Now I’d love to hear from you!
What are your favorite beverages during the summer?
Do you already love hibiscus? How do you like to use it?
Please share in the comments below.
- Hassan Mozaffari-Khosravi, Zeinab Ahadi, and Kazem Barzegar, “The Effect of Green Tea and Sour Tea on Blood Pressure of Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Clinical Trial,” Journal of Dietary Supplements 10, no. 2 (2013): 105-15, https://doi:10.3109/19390211.2013.790333. ↩
- Sedigheh Asgary et al., “Evaluation of the Effects of Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) on Oxidative Stress and Serum Levels of Lipids, Insulin and Hs-CRP in Adult Patients with Metabolic Syndrome: A Double-blind Placebo-controlled Clinical Trial,” Journal of Complementary & Integrative Medicine 13, no. 2 (2016): 175-80, https://doi:10.1515/jcim-2015-0030. ↩
- Sedigheh Asgary et al., “Evaluation of the Effects of Hibiscus,” 175-80. ↩
- C. M. Gurrola-Díaz et al., “Effects of Hibiscus sabdariffa Extract Powder and Preventive Treatment (diet) on the Lipid Profiles of Patients with Metabolic Syndrome (MeSy),” Phytomedicine: International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology 17, no. 7 (2010): 500-05, https://doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2009.10.014. ↩
- Hassan Mozaffari-Khosravi et al., “Effects of Sour Tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on Lipid Profile and Lipoproteins in Patients with Type II Diabetes,” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 15, no. 8 (2009): 899-903, https://doi:10.1089/acm.2008.0540. ↩
- D. C. Nwachukwu et al., “Effect of Hibiscus sabdariffa on Blood Pressure and Electrolyte Profile of Mild to Moderate Hypertensive Nigerians: A Comparative Study with Hydrochlorothiazide,” Nigerian Journal of Clinical Practice 18, no. 6 (2015): 762-70, https://doi:10.4103/1119-3077.163278. ↩
- Amir Hadi et al., “The Effect of Green Tea and Sour Tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) Supplementation on Oxidative Stress and Muscle Damage in Athletes,” Journal of Dietary Supplements 14, no. 3 (2017): 346-57, https://doi:10.1080/19390211.2016.1237400. ↩