Agua de Jamaica

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Agua de jamaica (or simply jamaica)  is one of my favorite beverages. In Chicago I am able to find it at most of my favorite Mexican restaurants and can’t resist ordering it. I am particularly fond of the jamaica at Maiz in Humboldt Park, which also serves up some fantastic food.  The refreshing and sweet tea-like beverage is made with dried hibiscus flowers. The use of hibiscus to make flavored waters is not limited to Latin America and is also common in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. If you haven’t tried Jamaica yet, you are in for a real treat. It is tart and sparkling with a smooth finish. It is the perfect liquid for a hot summer day and so good served with some of the foods you might be grilling this weekend.

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If you’re in a location with access to Mexican or Latin American markets you shouldn’t have any trouble finding dried hibiscus flowers (labeled flor de jamaica). Everyone else can order them from a variety of online retailers.

*** HAPPY CANADA DAY EVERYONE!!!!!!!

***In other news: this weekend we’ll be deciding on the official drink of summer. My friend Katie is in town and both drinks will be made. Voting will take place. A winner will be crowned! Stay tuned for the results…

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Agua de Jamaica

  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 cups dried jamaica flowers (hibiscus)

Bring 6 cups of water and 6 tablespoons of sugar to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Remove from heat and add the jamaica flowers. Let steep for 5 hours.

Strain liquid into a pitcher and chill. Serve cold or over ice. Add additional sugar to taste.

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16 comments to “Agua de Jamaica”

  1. Dawn in CA says:

    July 1st, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    This is so cool! I never thought of making it from scratch. As for the official drink of summer, we might just have to have a contest of our own during this weekend’s July 4th party. Your Prosecco and Aperol concoction is looking pretty good…

  2. I add Campari to mine!

  3. I love agua de jamaica! I bet it would be great with a shot of vodka and/or st. germain – maybe some club soda too…

  4. Good idea! Will try…

  5. Speaking of Canada, it’s not so easy to find jamaica in Alberta. I’ve still got a few hibiscus flowers left over from my last stock up in L.A. Thanks for the reminder! Also, I love the ice cubes in those photos.

  6. Agua de Jamaica looks vibrant and refreshing. As a fan of hibiscus tea, I’m very intrigued by this summery sipper.

  7. I just got back from Los Angeles two days ago where I was drinking at least a litre of agua de jamaica every day. One of the best summer drinks out there! I also tried a pretty mean cantelope version at a juice stand. mmmmm…..

  8. yum!

  9. How appropriate! I JUST made this for the time this weekend (to accompany fish tacos), and found it to be the perfect refresher. Was debating if I’d post the recipe as well, but am just going to direct readers to you :) I used raw sugar, which was incorporated well.

  10. A local Izakaya makes infused Japanese plum wine (umeshu). A berry one, a rose and a coffee. After tasting the rose, I knew I had to bring them some dried hibiscus to try. They’ve now added it to their collection! It’s delicious over ice.

  11. Thank you for posting this! The world needs to know more about aguas frescas than just horchata (although horchata is and always will be my favorite!).

  12. yummers!

  13. Love this! We call it “sorrel” in Jamaica and it is usually made at Christmas time. Add lots of white rum and ginger :-)

  14. white rum and ginger seem like good additions!

  15. Just saw this. We live in Panama and get the flowers fresh. We cook it in lots of water with ginger and sometimes a bit of cardamon. Add sugar and serve in ice. So nice. Here it is called “saril”.

  16. We are going home to Jamaica soon and hope to get some of our variety there. We will post our Jamaican version of the drink and share with you. The reason it may have the name Jamaica is because this is where the Latin version came from. No Jamaican home goes without it during the season it grows -winter.

What do you think?