Travels: Rosa de Jamaica in Guatemala

Rosa de jamaica 1

Another ruby red juice! Today, it’s rosa de jamaica, which I drank for the first time in Guatemala. On my latest trip, I eagerly drank some as soon as I arrived and didn’t stop until I went home! This simple drink is made from the dried sepals (the part that holds the petals) of hibiscus flower. You infuse the dried hibiscus in boiling water and sugar.This beverage is enjoyed either chilled or hot.

On our trip this summer, I learned the secret of my husband’s Aunt Patricia’s fragrant jamaica. All she did is add a cinnamon stick to the boiling jamaica and sugar.I was so mesmerized by the brilliant red that I don’t quite remember the amounts she used. So, I referred to this recipe for Mexican agua de jamaica from 101 Cookbooks. I like my jamaica tart so I added only one cup of water to the drink after straining the hibiscus, and I did not add any more than the first ½ cup of sugar. Take note of her advice: the brilliant red juice stains! If you want to replicate Aunt Patricia’s recipe, add a cinnamon stick.

Jamaica on Stove

Jamaica is ubiquitous throughout Central America, as well as in the Caribbean. It’s also enjoyed in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. It’s harder to find here than in Guatemala, but not impossible, especially since there are many Latin and Caribbean markets in South Florida. Even though I’d enjoyed hibiscus tea before, I wasn’t quite sure if it was the same thing. In fact, hibiscus is also known as red sorrel, bissap, roselle, and karkady. However, I suspect that products sold as jamaica and red sorrel may be cheaper than the now gourmet hibiscus tea.

Please let me know if you find jamaica at your local market.One person told me that she sometimes finds jamaica in Sedano’s, although a recent search at the one on Miller and 147th yielded no results.

Lucky for you, hibiscus tea is a prize in Miami Dish’s First Anniversary Contest. You can enter to win a 2 ounce tin of hibiscus from Theine, along with other prizes, just by leaving me a comment with your first name, what city you live in, and why you read Miami Dish!

For more about sorrel wine, a drink made with the same plant throughout the Caribbean, check out my other project, Sound Bite.

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10 Responses to “Travels: Rosa de Jamaica in Guatemala”

  1. August 26, 2008 at 10:35 am #

    I tried this in Colombia. Chilled, it’s incredibly refreshing.

  2. Marian
    August 27, 2008 at 9:49 pm #

    I’ve had jamaica at Rosita’s Mexican Restaurant on Palm Drive in Florida City.

  3. August 28, 2008 at 12:33 pm #

    you can get real hibiscus flowers, dried and packaged, at some of the latin markets up my way, like President and Serano’s. I’ve tried them and they are indeed the real thing. My dad used to bring bags of them home from Mexico; he swore they were excellent for health.

  4. Yaneth
    June 4, 2009 at 2:32 pm #

    Reference I am originally from Guatemala and was raised in the states and have always loved this refreshing drink and I always wondered what this drink is good grandmother used to say its very good for your kidneys…Now I started researching and found that it is a good antioxidant and the aforementioned sites also states this:
    “Sometimes referred to as karkade, carcadè, Rosa de Jamaica, Jamaican roselle and red sorrel tea. It has been shown to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure..

    So you be the judge …

  5. Michelle
    September 11, 2009 at 12:45 am #

    My family uses this for high colesterol but my mother did say that it can thin your blood. She also stated that to only take a swig one to two time a day and not a full glass for only a week. Then only once in while. It works very well.

  6. November 9, 2010 at 5:17 pm #

    me parece buenisimo sobre todo para la menospausia a mi encanta tomarla

  7. February 14, 2011 at 6:46 pm #

    mi pregunta es soy colombiana y deseo saver como se produse la semilla de la flor de jamaicaode quq forma se da la plantica

  8. agho
    June 13, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    I was introduced to this drink in Costa Rica and brought back with me couple of bags, but i am not sure i know how to fix it. I steep in cold water. should i used boiled? how much do i use per quart o litre?

  9. July 3, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

    Hi Agho,

    I linked to this recipe in my post. Try it and let me know if it helps:

  10. felise
    January 1, 2012 at 11:23 pm #

    Just returned from Guatemala with bushels of this tea that my children fell in love with. Interesting though, there are 2 parts to this tea which I learned on our last day..the hibiscus is what brings the flavor, but it’s rose hips that are steeped as well for color and additional health benefits.

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