Agua De Jamaica (Hibiscus Tea) Recipe

Agua de jamaica, or hibiscus water, is one of the more popular flavors of Mexican agua fresca, which are refreshing juices made with fresh fruits, grains, or flowers. Agua frescas have been around for centuries, and are a modern Mexican culinary staple, coming in dozens of flavors from cucumber to pineapple. Heard of horchata? It's one of Mexico's most famous drinks, and another popular agua fresca.

Agua de jamaica is made with dried flor de jamaica, or hibiscus flowers, steeped in water until the tea is a dark pinkish-crimson color. It's a gorgeous drink but tart, meant to be sweetened with sugar, or punched up with fruit or limes. A word of warning: not everyone likes the slightly bitter taste of hibiscus, so don't be disappointed if this drink isn't for you, even after adding extra sugar. The taste is similar to cranberry juice, so if you like cranberry, that's a good way to know if you'll like it (before making a batch of 8). Our recipe below, written by developer Michelle McGlinn, is a guide on how to make a simple, large batch of sweetened hibiscus tea, perfect for sipping on alongside spicy foods, or during hot summer days.

What you need to make agua de jamaica

The base of this hibiscus agua fresca is simple — water and dried hibiscus petals. These are easiest to find in large quantities at your local Mexican market, where the dried flowers are labeled as flor de jamaica, and sold in fairly large bags. They aren't as striking in color as they are fresh, and will be a dark, wine color. The dried petals aren't meant to be eaten as is, and instead, are used like tea, and come to life when steeped in water. The resulting water is tart and a little bitter, needing sugar to balance the sourness, and lime to add more flavor. You can adjust these additions to taste, and use our recommendation as a guide on where to start.

Steep the hibiscus

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, remove from the heat, drop in the flor de jamaica, and watch the ruby red color sink into the liquid. The flowers dye the water quickly, and barely require 5 minutes to color the water deep red. Give the petals around 15 minutes to infuse their tart flavor into the hot water, then strain over a large bowl. Press the flowers into your strainer to extract as much of their liquid as possible, then discard the soaked petals. One tip from us: be careful where you put the petals after soaking, because their red color will stain.

Customize the agua fresca

Because it tastes similar to cranberry or pomegranate juice, some people like the flavor of plain hibiscus tea. Don't feel that you need to drink it plain; many agua frescas are customized to include extra flavors, more sweetness, dilution, or even fresh fruit. This recipe is standard for a tart, refreshing lime-hibiscus agua fresca, with 4 cups of water, juice from 1 lime, and ½ cup of sugar added. Add whole lime wheels, fresh strawberries, or even seltzer water to make it your own.

How to add alcohol

Just like lemonade, agua frescas can be spiked for an adults-only version of this sweet tea. Agua de jamaica pairs particularly well with tequila, especially in this lime-heavy version. Add 1 ounce of tequila to a cup of agua de jamaica, and shake over ice until frothy. To make the whole batch a spiked punch, just add a ½ to 1 cup of rum or vodka, and serve with plenty of ice.

Storing and serving agua de jamaica

Because there isn't fruit in this agua fresca, the drink lasts up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Store in a pitcher, covered, and pour over ice to serve. You can also store this tea covered at room temperature, but it will only last for about 2 days before starting to taste off. When the fresca starts tasting sour or chalky, it's time to toss.

If a whole pitcher won't fit in the fridge, you can also omit the final 4 cups of water, and save the concentrated hibiscus mixture in a smaller container in the refrigerator. To serve, pour the concentrate into glasses, and dilute with water to taste, about 1 cup of concentrate to 1 cup of water.

Agua de jamaica can be enjoyed at any time of day, and with so many delicious meals. It pairs particularly well with spicy proteins like carne asada, flavorful carnitas, and salty chips and guacamole. With how easy it is to prepare, it's worth having a batch around to serve guests, or sip on in hot summer months. 

Agua De Jamaica (Hibiscus Tea) Recipe
5 from 31 ratings
Infused with hibiscus flowers, this delicious agua de jamaica drink recipe is perfect to serve on a hot summer day.
Prep Time
Cook Time
two glasses with tea
Total time: 20 minutes
  • 8 cups water, divided
  • 2 cups dried hibiscus flowers
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • ½ cup sugar, or to taste
Optional Ingredients
  • Liquor, such as vodka, rum, or tequila
  1. Bring 4 cups of water to boil in a medium saucepan. Once boiling, remove from the heat, and add the hibiscus flowers. Let steep for 15 minutes.
  2. Strain the flowers out of the tea, pressing into the flowers to extract any remaining water. Pour the strained tea into a large pitcher. Discard the flowers.
  3. Add the remaining 4 cups of water, juice from 1 lime, and ½ cup of sugar. Stir well to combine. Adjust the sugar or lime to to taste.
  4. Store in the refrigerator until cooled, then serve over ice.
Calories per Serving 58
Total Fat 0.1 g
Saturated Fat 0.0 g
Trans Fat 0.0
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 15.0 g
Dietary Fiber 0.2 g
Total Sugars 12.6 g
Sodium 10.6 mg
Protein 0.2 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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