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Agua de Jamaica

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 [1] 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 [2] this weekend.

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.


***In other news: this weekend we’ll be deciding on the official drink of summer. My friend Katie is in town and both [3] drinks [4] will be made. Voting will take place. A winner will be crowned! Stay tuned for the results…

Agua de Jamaica

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.