The Food Maven Diary
I've had sorrel tea in Jamaican restaurants and roti shops around town but now the flower pods used in making the tea are starting to pop up in grocery stores as well.
What is called sorrel in the West Indies is actually a variety of hibiscus plant called Jamaica Sorrel (H. Sabdariffa). It is not related to the green, leafy herb/vegetable called Garden Sorrel, also known to botanists as R. acetosa. The hibiscus pods are very versatile and can be used in flavoring teas, marmalades, pudding, cakes, sauces, and even rum. You can even feel virtuous about drinking the tea. Medical studies have found that it can significantly lower your blood pressure. According to folklore it's also a powerful aphrodisiac – for men.
You can purchase three 2 ounce packs of hibiscus pods for $4.79 plus shipping from Melissas.com or call their hotline:
Makes 1 gallon
4 ounces of Jamaica (Hibiscus Pod)
4 cups of Water
1 1/2 cups of Sugar
Bring water to boil. Add Jamaica and boil for 1 minute.
Steep for 20 minutes. Strain with a fine strainer.
Add sugar and water to make 1 gallon.
Stir well. Serve over ice.
This drink may also be sweetened with honey to taste.
Arthur's Two Cents: Melissa's sorrel tea recipe calls for an entire package of pods to make one gallon of tea. The tea is so astringent that we've had better results making it more dilute. The amount of sugar in their recipe seems excessive to me and masks the tea's alluringly bittersweet qualities. Adjust the sweetener to your own taste.