Most of us have a daily tea or coffee drinking routine. Once you know what you like, it can be tempting to stick with it forever - which means that you may end up missing out on some of the delicious, healthful alternatives on offer.
If you fancy subbing your usual cup of tea for something new, it's well worth considering hibiscus tea. This herbal tea is made from soaking parts of the hibiscus flowering plant in boiling water. It has a slightly sweet, sharp flavor, a little like cranberry juice. You can enjoy it either hot or cold - and it's said to have a whole host of benefits.
What Is Hibiscus Tea?
Hibiscus tea, which may also be referred to as Agua de Jamaica, or as Hibiscus sabdariffa (its scientific name), is derived from the hibiscus plant. The tea is sour to taste and magenta or deep red in color.
Used for centuries as a medicinal tea, hibiscus tea is a popular beverage that is enjoyed all over the world. It's widely available in health stores and online - and for good reason! Not only does hibiscus tea have an enjoyable taste, but scientific research has also found it to be beneficial to health and wellbeing.
In this guide, you'll learn the health benefits of hibiscus tea leaves and juice, as well as the uses of hibiscus tea.
Hibiscus tea is rich in antioxidants, which are essential for helping our bodies to fight free radicals, unstable atoms that can cause oxidative cell damage.
When free radicals attack the body's cells, they can exacerbate aging, resulting in skin wrinkles. More dangerously, these invaders can also increase a person's risk for certain diseases and illnesses. Multiple studies have found that diabetes, dementia and cardiovascular disease can be caused by free radicals.
One of the best health benefits of hibiscus tea, therefore, is its ability to fight free radicals with its high antioxidant content. Not only can these antioxidants slow the aging process; they can also reduce inflammation in the body, lowering your risk of illness and helping you to maintain youthful, dewy skin.
Studies show that drinking tea made from hibiscus sabdariffa on a daily basis can help to improve heart health, and may even lower blood pressure. One study of adults with high blood pressure found that consuming three servings of 8-ounce cups of hibiscus tea every day for six weeks decreased overall blood pressure. An additional review found that drinking herbal tea could reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Of course, before stocking up on hibiscus tea and using it as an alternative to your doctor's prescribed heart medication, be sure to seek advice from a healthcare expert first. While hibiscus tea might be a natural option to consider if you want to lower your blood pressure, it may interact with certain diuretics used to treat high blood pressure. Additionally, evidence to suggest that hibiscus tea is capable of maintaining heart health as effectively as medications is lacking.
3. May Lower Cholesterol
According to one study, hibiscus tea is capable of increasing HDL or "good" cholesterol, while reducing LDL or "bad" cholesterol and triglyceride levels. While this evidence is still relatively new, and more studies are needed to confirm the findings, it's promising news for those who make drinking hibiscus tea a daily habit.
4. May Support Weight Loss
Of course, if you're trying to lose weight, drinking hibiscus tea alone won't provide you with the benefits you're looking for. But hibiscus tea may be effective in aiding weight loss when used in conjunction with a healthy diet and lifestyle. This is largely thanks to the diuretic properties hibiscus tea is said to have.
One study found that drinking hibiscus extract for 12 weeks could reduce body weight, BMI and abdominal fat in obese and overweight participants. However, it's worth noting that hibiscus extract is stronger than hibiscus tea, so you likely wouldn't get the same results from consuming hibiscus tea.
Additionally, because it's an anti-inflammatory, hibiscus tea may be effective in reducing cortisol, the stress response hormone. Hibiscus flowers contain many polyphenols and antioxidants that can be found in fruits and veggies, and can help to prevent inflammation and disease in the body.
Finally, if you drink hibiscus tea when you're craving something sweet, you'll be able to ward off cravings by changing the taste in your mouth. If you do find that the beverage is too tart for your liking, you can make hibiscus tea with some honey to sweeten it up.
5. Boosts Digestion
The digestive health benefits of hibiscus tea result from its role as a diuretic. A diuretic can increase the amount of salt and water that the body expels in urine. As a natural diuretic, hibiscus tea may be effective in supporting the digestive system's role in directing salt out of the body. Additionally, having lower sodium levels in the blood can reduce blood pressure.
Hibiscus tea is essentially flavored water that's free of both sugar and caffeine, so it'll keep you hydrated without putting anything that's difficult to digest into your body. Hibiscus tea counts towards your daily fluids. Drinking enough fluids every day helps to prevent constipation, a common digestive side-effect.
6. Supports Immunity
Most of us have a go-to food or beverage to ward away coughs and colds. But thanks to its immune-boosting benefits, hibiscus tea may help you to get over a winter illness as effectively as the remedies you swear by.
Hibiscus tea contains vitamin C, which is one of the best antioxidants for warding off sickness and maintaining immune system health. Hibiscus tea also has a high iron content. Iron is needed to maintain healthy red blood cells and balance the immune system. The vitamin C in hibiscus flowers can increase iron absorption, offering a two-in-one of health benefits.
7. May Prevent Kidney Stones
One of hibiscus tea's lesser-known health benefits is its ability to support kidney function. In fact, research has found that hibiscus can prevent calcium oxalate crystals from turning into kidney stones. Once again, the evidence we have so far is limited, and more research is needed to conclude that hibiscus tea can be used effectively to prevent kidney stones.
8. Supports a Healthy Liver
The liver is another organ that can benefit from hibiscus. According to studies, hibiscus tea may help prevent liver damage. In some studies, decreased markers of liver damage were noted, while in others, the liver was found to have an increased concentration of beneficial detoxifying enzymes.
One thing to note is that these studies were largely based on extracts from hibiscus flowers or the wider hibiscus plant, so it's likely that hibiscus tea, being less concentrated, could not quite be so beneficial. Additionally, you should always speak to your doctor before deciding to make hibiscus tea your go-to liver remedy if you're already on medication for an existing liver condition.
9. Has Antidepressant Qualities
The vitamins and minerals, specifically flavonoids, in hibiscus have been found in numerous studies to have antidepressant qualities. Drinking herbal tea made from hibiscus has proven beneficial in calming the nervous system and reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. This is because flavonoids can help the mind and body to relax.
Many people also find the act of drinking a cup of tea almost therapeutic in itself. Try drinking hibiscus hot tea as part of a wind-down routine before bed or early in the morning after waking up.
10. May Reduce UTIs
A final use of hibiscus is in reducing urinary tract infections, as well as bladder and kidney infections. Early research suggests that hibiscus may be able to reduce the risk of UTIs in people with urinary catheters. As with many of the points in this guide, there's insufficient evidence to support this initial study, but emerging findings are promising.
How to Make Hibiscus Tea
You can buy hibiscus sabdariffa tea from most health stores, but making your own tea from dried hibiscus flowers will produce the most delicious beverage. You can find dried hibiscus flowers from a number of reputable sellers online.
To make this tea, you'll need 2 t tablespoons of dried hibiscus flowers, a cup of boiling water, and a few optional extras, like cinnamon, ginger, honey, mint leaves, and lime wedges.
Once the water is boiling, add the dried hibiscus flowers and pour into a teapot. Leave to steep for 5 minutes, which will give the flowers time to flavor the water. Steep for longer if you're looking for a stronger tea.
Hibiscus tea has a sharp, tart flavor, so consider adding your preferred sweetener and flavorings to the beverage. You can then strain out the flowers and wait for your beverage to cool before you drink up.
Fancy something other than a warm beverage? You could also drink iced tea made from hibiscus for something a little different.
Hibiscus sabdariffa tea is one of the healthiest herbal teas available today. It lowers blood pressure levels, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar, and can boost digestive, kidney and liver health.
Hibiscus tea contains a wide range of healthy nutrients, including vitamin C, and has very few side effects. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, making it a healthy beverage for warding off disease and boosting overall wellbeing.
It's no wonder that so many people around the world drink hibiscus tea. If you've never tried it before, what are you waiting for? Using hibiscus on a daily basis is a fantastic investment in your health and wellness.