Delicious Holiday Sorrel Drink

A clear glass cup filled with red sorrel drink and a cinnamon stick.

Sorrel Drink is a refreshing sweet and tart Caribbean drink of steeped Sorrel (Hibiscus) with cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Enjoy it cold, in a tasty rum or wine cocktail, or as a hot cider this holiday season.

The holidays are a great time to enjoy a beverage or two. Try a delicious Dirty Chai Egg Nog or a Smoky Saskatoon Whisky Flip, there’s a cocktail for everyone here!

Three clear glass cups filled with red sorrel drink and a cinnamon stick.

Sorrel Drink

Sorrel Drink, Sorrel Punch, or Agua de Jamaica, is a refreshing red drink made from steeped fresh, dried, or frozen sorrel (hibiscus) plant petals.

It has a lovely tart, almost berry-like flavour accented by spices such as cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. It is the perfect holiday treat!

Throughout the Caribbean, it is served cold with (or without) rum or wine. However, it’s also delicious warm as a holiday cider also known as hibiscus tea.

Where to Buy Hibiscus

You may be wondering…where do I find Hibiscus? You can find dried sorrel at any Jamaican or Caribbean grocery store. The dried calyxes are FULL of flavour and much easier to source than fresh or frozen sorrel.

If you don’t have a Jamaican grocery store nearby, it is available to order from Amazon. Click the photo below to order. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small portion from qualifying purchases at no extra charge to you.

How to Make Sorrel Drink

To make the drink, place the dried petals in a colander and give them a good rinse under cold water to remove any dirt or impurities.

Three clear glass cups filled with red sorrel drink and a cinnamon stick.

Place the sorrel, cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, sugar, and cloves in a stockpot. Cover with 12 cups of water and bring to a boil.

Remove from heat and cover. Allow the ingredients to steep for an hour, then strain the mixture and discard the solids.

Enjoy the drink warm or allow the infusion to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight and serve the next day as a cold beverage.

What is Sorrel?

Jamaican Sorrel or more specifically Roselle, is the red calyx (fruit body minus the seed) of the hibiscus plant (Hibiscus sabdariffa).

Three clear glass cups filled with red sorrel drink and a cinnamon stick.

Both the leaves and the calyx are edible, though it’s the calyx that has a beautiful red colour and delicious tart flavour.

The green leaves are an ingredient in many savoury dishes from soups to curries around the world. Additionally, the stem is also useful for producing bast fibre, a component in jute and burlap.

A quick Google search for ‘sorrel’ may lead to confusion, though as there is also a common grassland perennial herb by the same name. It is delicious as a herb or salad green.

Where Does Roselle Come From?

Roselle hibiscus grows in West and East Africa, as well as South East Asia (NE India) and mainland South Asia.

A clear glass cup filled with red sorrel drink and a cinnamon stick.

The red calyces are exported worldwide and used in multiple applications such as food colouring, syrups, jams, jellies, pickles, savoury dishes, and as a beverage.

Sorrel Drink Around the World

Versions of this drink include Agua de Jamaica (Mexico), Zobo (Nigeria) which is mixed with fresh fruit juices such as pineapple or watermelon, Karkade (Senegal or Middle East) with fresh lemon or lime juice, Hibiscus Plant Flower in West Africa where it is mixed with mint flowers, Hibiscus cooler (US) or as a Hibiscus herbal tea.

The red juice can also be brewed into wine (Thailand and Tanzania) or combined with beer as a sort of Shandy (instead of lemonade). Sorrel also makes a very festive addition when dropped into a flute of champagne.

Two clear glass cups filled with red sorrel drink and a cinnamon stick.

Caribbean Style Sorrel Drink Flavours

Throughout the Caribbean, there are many flavour variations of Flor de Jamaica. Ingredients may or may not include ginger, bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, orange peel, or allspice (pimento).

It is always sweetened with sugar and may be served mixed with alcohol such as rum or wine.

The Health Benefits

Sorrel contains immune system boosting Vitamin C and may contain anti-microbial properties. This makes it a great cold and flu season beverage.

Three clear glass cups filled with red sorrel drink and a cinnamon stick.

This healthy plant may also aid in lowering blood pressure and reduce blood cholesterol and triglycerides in those with diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Hibiscus is also high in antioxidant polyphenols which may aid in fighting certain cancers.

Hot Tea or Cold Refresher?

I brew the hibiscus with the intent of enjoying it both as a refreshing cold drink and warming cider. I love the flavours at either temperature.

As a warm hibiscus tea or cider, the tart flavour really pops along with the warming spices. The drink would make a great replacement for Cranberry or Apple Cider.

A clear glass cup filled with red sorrel drink and a cinnamon stick.

Once brewed, Sorrel Drink will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. To reheat, simply pour into a mug of your choice and microwave for a minute or two.

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Pinterest image of hot red cider in clear glasses with a cinnamon stick.
Yield: 12 servings

Delicious Holiday Sorrel Drink

A clear glass cup filled with red sorrel drink and a cinnamon stick.

Sorrel Drink is a refreshing spiced sweet and tart Caribbean drink made by steeping Sorrel with cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Enjoy it cold, in a tasty rum cocktail, or as a hot cider.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 cups dried sorrel 
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 allspice berries
  • 8 whole cloves 

Instructions

  1. Place dried sorrel in a colander and briefly rinse it under cold water.
  2. Add the sorrel, sugar, and spices to a large pot.
  3. Cover with 12 cups of water and bring to a boil.
  4. Remove from heat, cover and allow to steep for an hour.
  5. Cool to room temperature, then place in the refrigerator to cool.

To Serve:

Cold - Serve over ice.

Cold with Alcohol - Add 1 oz white rum over ice then top up with sorrel drink. Can also be mixed with wine.

Warm - Drink warm as a cider with an extra cinnamon stick and orange zest.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1 cup

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 75Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 2mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 1gSugar: 17gProtein: 0g

Nutritional calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator.

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19 comments

  1. Gloria

    Well the cold weather is setting in. Time to hibernate for the winter (LOL). This year in 2020 there is nothing else to do. This drink will be perfect to curl up by the fire with.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      It’s the perfect drink for fire watching. Enjoy!

      Reply

  2. Chef Dennis

    Tasty! This Holiday Sorrel Drink is sooo good. My wife and I enjoyed this.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      I just love it. Actually sipping on some right now. I’m obsessed!

      Reply

  3. Veronika Sykorova

    This looks really good! I’ve never used sorrel in anything, can’t wait to try it!

    Reply

  4. Jenny

    Bernice, I love this! I had never heard of sorrel drink before. I am going to make your recipe this weekend. I will do the true Caribean cold version and add some rum to it. It is perfect for this time of year, will feel festive in our house again with your fabulous drink! Thank you for sharing it.

    Reply

  5. Veronika

    Such a delicious drink! I had it once before and loved the flavor! Need to make it again sometime soon!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      I agree! We’re totally addicted to it at our house.

      Reply

  6. Melanie Cagle

    Mmmmm, this looks delicious. It reminds me a little of Mulled Wine, a drink we would make at Christmas time too, although with wine as a base, not rum. I will definitely have to try this now that I’ve seen it. It’s my kind of drink!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Apparently it can be mixed with wine too. Kind of like a Caribbean style Sangria.

      Reply

  7. Sharon

    I had no idea hibiscus had another name! This drink is FAB. 🙂 I used coconut sugar which is all I have on hand and it worked fine. I first had a hibiscus tea at a fancy spa I went to and loved it. That one was more fruity and summery and your sorrel drink recipe was distinctively Christmas-y which was PERFECT for getting cozy and watching the Mandalorian. 🙂 Thanks, Bernice!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      I didn’t either until I started researching this post. Glad the substitute worked out for you too.

      Reply

  8. Marwin Brown

    I love Sorrel, but you’ve managed to open my mind to newer possibilities with it. I’ll definitely be making some holiday cheer with it and some rum.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Awesome! I have yet to try it with rum but that will be happening very soon. and gin too!

      Reply

  9. Aline

    Oh my!! I had no idea I could use sorrel this way!! Thank you so much for the inspiration – I’m definitely trying this this week!! Looks so cozy!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Yes! This cider is so darn easy. You’ll love this sorrel drink hot or cold.

      Reply

  10. Loreto Nardelli

    This drink has me feeling all full of the Christmas spirit! The spices and hibiscus a great combination for color, aroma and flavor. Have to make some of thus for tree trimming time! Thanks for all the good info!

    Reply

  11. Jamie

    What a delicious drink! This made my whole house smell amazing like cinnamon and clove. Perfect for the winter season!

    Reply

  12. Jo

    One can never have too many holiday drinks recipe. I’m loving all the drinks recipe coming up on my feed recently.
    This drink looks so amazing. I wish sorrel was available in my world. May be it is I need to check it out. I’m really tempted to try this.

    Reply

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