Agua de Jamaica (Hibiscus Tea)

The Cowgirl Gourmet
 
These flowers stain, so please use a non-reactive pot to boil the water, as well as a pitcher that will not absorb the coloring. Oh, and don't prepare this in your favorite Prada outfit either...if you know what I mean.
 
Makes 1 quart
 
6 cups water
2 cups flor de jamaica, or dried hibiscus flowers
1/2 - 1 cup sugar, depending on your preference (start with 1/2 cup adding more if needed), you could also use Splenda, agave nectar or other natural sweetener
3 additional cups water
A sprig of mint of squeeze of lime for additinal flavor or garnish 
 
Place 6 cups of water in a pot and add the 2 cups of flor de jamaica.
 
Turn on the heat to high, stirring occasionally and allow to boil for 1-2 minutes.
 
The minute you turn on the heat, you will see the water begin to turn red from the flowers...as the heat increases, the red color will deepen. This is my favorite part.
 
After boiling for 1-2 minutes, turn off the heat and allow everything to steep for 20-30 minutes.
 
Prepare your pitcher and get a sieve or small colander ready to strain the liquid into, reserving all of the flor de jamaica. Carefully place the flor de jamaica in the trash, so as not to stain the floor, you or your clothes...

Add the remaining 3 cups of water and your choice of sweetener to the agua de jamaica and stir until everything has dissolved. Taste and add more sweetener if needed. The trick is to create a tart-yet-ever-so-slightly sweet drink.

Chill thoroughly and serve over ice. You may want to add a squeeze of lime or a sprig of mint for additional flavor or garnish.

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