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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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