The first time I was asked at a restaurant in Mexico if I wanted water, I responded, si, thinking that I was asking for good old plain water. What was brought to me was nothing of the sort. It was neither old, nor plain. This water—agua de Jamaica—was a vibrant magenta pink and it tasted sweet and cool as it hit my tongue. I was pleasantly surprised and supremely happy by surprise.
3 quarts (12 cups) water
2 cups dried Jamaica flowers (flor de Jamaica)
1 cup granulated sugar (if you like a sweeter drink add more sugar)
Combine water and hibiscus leaves in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain through a chinois or fine mesh strainer into a large, heat-resistant bowl or pot. Add sugar until sugar has dissolved and taste to make sure it is the level of sweetness that you desire. If you would like a sweeter brew, add more sugar. Set aside to cool. Refrigerate until ready to use. Serve over ice.
This basic recipe can be adapted for a brighter flavor by adding large chunks of fresh peeled ginger to the mixture that you boil and then at the end by adding the juice of one lime. If you want a deeper flavor, add a pinch each of ground cinnamon, clove, allspice, and nutmeg.
I also recommend spiking this drink! It is great with vodka, of course, but it also would make the base of a great margarita with a bit more sugar, 2 ounces of tequila blanco, and an ounce of lime juice. Above all, I encourage you to experiment!
Download Recipe: Agua de Jamaica Recipe