Hibiscus Tea: Benefits, How to Make, & Side Effects

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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The health benefits of hibiscus tea include its ability to control hypertension and reduce high blood pressure, lower blood sugar levels, and improve liver health. It also helps in improving digestion and treating depression.

Not just that but research suggests that hibiscus tea may speed up metabolism and help in aiding healthy, gradual weight loss. This tea is rich in vitamin C, minerals, and antioxidants.

What is Hibiscus Tea?

Hibiscus tea, also known as Agua de Jamaica and by its scientific name Hibiscus sabdariffa is prepared by boiling parts of the hibiscus plant. This tea is ruby red or deep magenta in color and has a sour taste.

It is a very popular beverage throughout the world and is often used as a medicinal tea. Hibiscus flowers have various names and are known as “Roselle” in some places. It is widely available in the market throughout the tea-drinking world and can be consumed hot or cold depending on your preference.

Watch Video: 7 Great Benefits Of Hibiscus Tea

7 Great Benefits Of Hibiscus Tea & How To Make It | Organic Facts

Hibiscus Tea Nutrition

Hibiscus tea is naturally low in calories and is caffeine-free. According to the USDA Nutrient Database, it has a good supply of minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc. It also contains B-vitamins like niacin and folic acid. This tea is a good source of anthocyanins, which makes it beneficial for managing elevated blood pressure levels, the common cold, and urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Nutrition Facts

Beverages, tea, hibiscus, brewed
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]99.58
Ash [g]0.42
Calcium, Ca [mg]8
Iron, Fe [mg]0.08
Magnesium, Mg [mg]3
Phosphorus, P [mg]1
Potassium, K [mg]20
Sodium, Na [mg]4
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.04
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.48
Niacin [mg]0.04
Folate, total [µg]1
Folate, food [µg]1
Folate, DFE [µg]1
Choline, total [mg]0.4
Sources include : USDA

Health Benefits of Hibiscus Tea

The various benefits of hibiscus flower tea which can help in keeping the human body fit are given below. Read on and get healthier!

Manages Blood Pressure

A report from the AHA (American Heart Association), published in November 2008, suggests that consuming this tea lowers the blood pressure in pre-hypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults. It also states that 1/3 of adults in the United States suffer from high blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension.

study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology suggests that hibiscus has antihypertensive and cardioprotective properties, which can be beneficial for people suffering from hypertension and those at high risks of cardiovascular diseases.

Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, hibiscus tea can reduce blood pressure by up to 10 points, according to a 2010 research done at Tufts University in Boston. For this drastic improvement to occur, you need to regularly consume three cups of this tea every day for a few weeks. Also, it has diuretic properties that increase urination and simultaneously lower blood pressure.

Dried hibiscus leaves and hibiscus tea on a wooden table

Freshly brewed hibiscus tea Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Weight Loss

As per a study published in the National Library of Medicine, hibiscus extracts help in preventing obesity due to its metabolism regulation properties. Another research published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology showed how hibiscus tea reduced body weight among obese mice.

Lowers Cholesterol

A research study conducted on patients with type II diabetes suggests that consumption of hibiscus and sour tea lowers cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and increases (good) high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, which helps to manage this unpredictable disease.

Hibiscus tea helps to lower the levels of (bad) LDL cholesterol from the body, thereby helping to protect against heart diseases and protecting blood vessels from damage. The hypolipidemic and hypoglycemic properties of hibiscus tea can be beneficial for those who suffer from blood sugar disorders like diabetes.

Protects Liver

Research studies have also suggested that the antioxidant properties of hibiscus tea may help in treating liver diseases. According to a 2014 study published in the Food & Function Journal, when 19 obese people were administered with hibiscus tea extract for 12 weeks, there was a significant improvement seen in liver steatosis – a condition they all had been suffering from. Liver steatosis is a condition which constitutes fat accumulation in the liver. This could lead to liver failure.

Hibiscus tea also consists of antioxidants that help protect your body from diseases because they help neutralize the free radicals present in body tissues and cells. Therefore, drinking the beneficial oxidants from caffeine-free hibiscus tea could lengthen your lifespan by maintaining good overall health.

Anticancer Properties

Hibiscus tea contains hibiscus protocatechuic acid, which has antitumor and antioxidant properties.

study conducted by the Department and Institute of Biochemistry at the Chung Shan Medical and Dental College, in Taichung, Taiwan suggests that hibiscus may slow down the growth of cancerous cells specifically human leukemia cells by inducing apoptosis, commonly known as programmed cell death.

Another study by Karina H. Goldberg and her research team reported that hibiscus extracts may inhibit the growth of skin cancer cells. Further, Lin HH, et al. in their research found hibiscus extract induces apoptosis or cell death in gastric cancer cells.

However, more research and scientific evidence are required to confirm the anticancer potential of hibiscus extracts.

Health benefits of hibiscus tea infographic

Hibiscus flowers have various names and are known as “Roselle” in some places.

Anti-inflammatory & Antibacterial Agent

The hibiscus plant’s loose leaf tea is rich in ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C. It is an essential nutrient required by your body to boost and stimulate the activity of the immune system. Hibiscus tea is also known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. In a study published in the Drug and Chemical Toxicology, when rats were administered with hibiscus extract, it increased the number of antioxidant enzymes in their bodies and reduced the harmful effects of free radicals by not less than 92 percent. While this is an animal study, more studies are needed to determine how antioxidants in hibiscus tea may affect humans.

Acts as an Antidepressant

Hibiscus tea contains vitamins and minerals, specifically flavonoids, which have been associated with antidepressant properties in some animal studies. Consumption of hibiscus tea may help calm down the nervous system, and it may reduce anxiety and depression by creating a relaxed sensation in the mind and body, says research published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology.

Improves Digestion

Many people drink hibiscus tea to improve digestion as it regularizes both urination and bowel movements. Since it has diuretic properties, it is also used to treat constipation, improve the health of your gastrointestinal system, and reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, says a study published in the IOSR Journal of Biotechnology and Biochemistry.

How to Make Hibiscus Tea?

Here’s a classic spin to your otherwise mundane tea. Hibiscus tea has a number of health benefits. You can get dried hibiscus flowers easily from departmental stores or online portals. If you find them in your garden, nothing like it. The red color in the tea is because of these flowers. So, without any further ado, let’s take a look at how to prepare it.

Dried hibiscus leaves and hibiscus tea on a wooden table

Hibiscus Tea Recipe

It is very easy to make hibiscus tea; all you need is a pan, water, hibiscus flowers, and sugar or honey. Let us take a look at the step by step process of making the tea at home. 
4 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Beverage
Cuisine: Others
Keyword: hibiscus tea
Appliance: Stove
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 cups
Author: Ishani Bose

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp dried hibiscus flowers
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • cinnamon stick optional
  • clove optional
  • tea bag optional
  • lime wedges optional
  • ginger optional
  • mint leaves optional

Instructions

  • On the stove, keep a pot of water to boil. Meanwhile, keep all the ingredients ready for the recipe, if you haven't.  
    A pot of boiling water
  • Take 2 tsp of dried hibiscus flowers, which equals to 10 ml of the same (to be more accurate) and add it to the boiling water. You are free to add more or less of the hibiscus flowers, depending on how strong you want your tea to be. It's important to note here that hibiscus tea doesn't have caffeine, so adding a lot of it won't have an adverse effect on your health. 
  • Once the water is boiled, pour the water slowly and steadily into a teapot. Make sure you have worn mittens/gloves to protect your hands from any kind of burns. 
  • If you want to add caffeine to your tea, add a tea bag to the concoction. Allow it to steep for five minutes.  While you wait, the hibiscus flowers will give the water a somewhat sharp, zingy taste.  If you wish your tea to be strong, allow it to steep for more than 5 minutes.
  • Once done, pour the tea into your cup, using a metal strainer. If your teapot has an in-built filter, the process will be way easier. Some people like to chew the hibiscus petals and don't prefer to strain them. You can try that as well if you like.
  • Don't forget to add your preferred sweetener to the beverage. Try it with honey if you can, as it goes very well with the zestfully tart flavor of the tea. You can add sugar or stevia as well, depending on your choice. 
    Hibiscus tea in a kettle and a teacup alongside cookies and flowers

Notes

Organic hibiscus tisane herbal tea has a taste that is very similar to cranberry juice. You can also try adding spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, mint leaves, lemon wedges or ginger depending on your taste. Hibiscus ginger tea is one of the popular flavors as it gives the tea both a balance of tartness (of the flower) and spiciness (of the ginger).

Hibiscus Tea Side Effects

Although hibiscus tea is a health enhancer and a natural weight loss booster, there are possible side effects you should be aware of.

  • Blood pressure: The health benefits of hibiscus tea include lowering blood pressure (antihypertensive properties). Therefore, it is not recommended for people who already have low blood pressure or hypotension, according to The Telegraph. It may cause faintness, dizziness, and can even cause damage to the heart or brain if consumed by anyone with low blood pressure.
  • Pregnancy and fertility: According to an article published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, hibiscus tea is not recommended for pregnant women, particularly due to its emmenagogue effects, which may stimulate menstruation or blood flow in the uterus or pelvic region. According to MedlinePlus, hibiscus can cause shakiness, constipation and stomach discomfort. For those undergoing hormonal treatments or taking birth control pills, it is recommended to consult your health specialist regarding the consumption of this variety of tea.
  • Diabetes & surgery: Hibiscus may lower the blood sugar levels so it is best advised to consult your doctor if suffering from diabetes or planning to undergo surgery.
  • Other: Some people may feel intoxicated or experience hallucinations after drinking hibiscus tea. Therefore, be cautious until you know how your body reacts to the tea. Don’t drive a car or operate heavy machinery until you know what its effects are on your system.
  • Allergy: Some people develop allergic reactions, such as itchy red eyes, sinus or hay fever when consuming hibiscus tea.

Note: Consult your doctor if taking medications such as Chloroquine, antidiabetic medications, or Zocor before using hibiscus tea.

FAQs

Is Hibiscus tea good for you?

Not many people are aware that almost 15-30% of hibiscus tea is composed of organic acids. These acids are malic acid, tartaric acid, and citric acid. They are commonly found in fruits such as grapes and wine. They help in boosting immunity, promoting better skin, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, managing inflammation, and improving digestive issues. Hibiscus tea has diuretic and choleretic effects, thus controlling blood viscosity by reducing blood pressure and enhancing digestion.

How much Hibiscus Tea Should I Drink?

Hibiscus tea is not very potent if you have the decaffeinated version. Ideally, one cup of this brew is enough to enjoy the health benefits outlined above. Consuming more than this can increase the risk of certain side effects. It is advisable to consult a doctor before consuming it.

Where to Buy Hibiscus Tea?

You can easily make hibiscus tea at home if you have the flowers growing in your backyard. If you don’t have access to a hibiscus plant, the tea is best made with:

  • Organic dried hibiscus flowers
  • Hibiscus tea bags

They are both available online as well as in local supermarkets. Hibiscus tea is also used as a sports drink in order to satiate thirst. For this purpose, hibiscus tea is typically consumed cold, as an iced tea. Many people include it in their diet since this variety of tea has the ability to cool down the body very fast. You can drink hibiscus tea either as a hot tea or an iced tea. If you want to keep yourself warm in the winter, brew it and drink it straight away. In case you do not want to drink it hot, during summer, you have the option to drink hibiscus iced tea by steeping organic hibiscus flowers in water. It takes about 20 minutes for preparation, and then you can cool yourself off in a healthy, refreshing way. So go ahead and brew a cup full of goodness!

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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