Hibiscus flower tea has a lovely sour taste, which I love. It is such a common ingredient here in China, and one of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) healing flowers. It is said to lower blood pressure, and actually, there have been a number of scientific studied conducted to support this claim in recent years.
The fresh basil adds a slight spicy and aromatic taste, but other herbs also work well here, particularly fresh mint, like my Ginger, Tamarind & Fresh Mint Sparkling Water.
Calamansi citrus (also known as ‘the golden lime’) is more commonly a staple ingredient of the Philippines, it’s fresh juice recommended by locals as the Vitamin C in organs juice is for shaving off a few hours off the symptoms of the common cold. It also prevents tooth decay, bleeding of gums and loosening of teeth due to its vitamin C content which helps in maintaining the health of the teeth.
I do find calamansi citrus rather easily in China too though, and it is often used as lemon or limes are in water or tea drinks. This recipe is actually also rather nice as a hot tea-like drink, if you prefer. Otherwise, once made refrigerate and serve on ice in large pitcher as a non-alcoholic aperitif.
Dried hibiscus flowers, 5 -6
Fresh basil, a handful
Calamansi citrus, a punnet
Distilled or still mineral water, 1 litre
1. Boil the water and pour over the hibiscus as you would prepare a flower tea and set aside to absorb the hibiscus flavour and colour.
2. When the water has cooled down and has a deep pink colour remove the hibiscus flowers and add the fresh basil (set aside a few fresh leaves for garnish) and juice of about 2/3 the calamansi citrus.
3. Blend until smooth and strain.
4. Halve the remaining calamansi citrus and add them to the drink with a few fresh basil leaves if you wish.
This is a rather sour drink with a little spice from the basil. If you find it too sour, add raw local honey for sweetness.
If you cannot find calamansi citrus, you could substitute for another citrus fruit of your choice. I think they have a taste somewhere between the orange and the lime if that helps at all!