The Story of Hibiscus

Hibiscus flower makes a beautiful red, rose or pink tea and is sometimes referred to the sour tea because of its tart, cranberry-like flavour.  Hibiscus tea is popular both hot and iced – often combined with fruit and herbal tea blends (it goes particularly well with berries and rose hips to make a bright-coloured anti-oxidant tea), alcoholic cocktails and a variety of foods and beverages.  Additionally, it is highly nutritious because of its high vitamin C

The hibiscus shrub is known for its large, vibrantly coloured flowers and is native to Africa, but also grown in other tropical regions too such as Thailand, China and Mexico.  Whilst the blooms look stunning in the landscape; it’s only enjoyed in a culinary sense when it is dried.

Hibiscus in History

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the whole hibiscus plant was used in Malay medicinal practices to treat venereal disease, fever and painful eyes.  Hibiscus tea was used as an expectorant for bronchitis and its leaves were applied to boils and sores to speed up the healing process.

Interestingly, the Chinese and Indians used hibiscus tea to darken hair and this practice was passed on to the Arabs and Portuguese.

Hibiscus was also known as the shoe flower because the flower petals were produced as a black shoe dye.

Did you know?

The meaning “Hibiscus” is consecrated to the “ibis”, a bird held sacred in ancient Egypt.  It also means feminine beauty and youthfulness.  Hibiscus can bloom in a variety of colours; yellow is known for good fortune, pink for friendship, purple for intellectual insight and red for love and passion.

Hibiscus is Hawaii’s state flower and when worn by young women behind their left ear means she is married or in a relationship.  If the flower is worn on the right, she is single and available for a relationship.  

Hibiscus is the national flower for Malaysia.

The red hibiscus is the flower of the Hindu goddess, Kali and hibiscus is used as an offering to her and Lord Ganesha in Hindu worship.

Cooking with Hibiscus 

Hibiscus flowers are more popular and commonly consumed as a tea or combined in a tea blend, but they also make a great seasoning especially when mixed with other spices.  They are known to taste great when rehydrated and sauteed with onions to add to a meat dish.

Hibiscus in Tea

Nowadays, hibiscus in tea blends is very popular, not only because of the character of flavour they bring to a blend, but also for their well-known healing properties.  Camellia’s Tea House has 4 fabulous tea blends containing hibiscus flowers

Very Berry tea is one of them, which is a rich and red infusion of mixed berries and hibiscus.  Very berry tea is very popular amongst our tea lover friends and often used as a tea cocktail or in a dessert recipe. 

Luscious Locks is a delicious herbal infusion with hibiscus that offers sweet floral notes with a hint of spice and a refreshing citrus finish.  It has been specifically designed using ingredients used in various cultures over the centuries to help repair damaged hair and encourage healthy hair growth. 

As discussed earlier, hibiscus offers a great source of vitamin C that boosts the production of collagen in the body.  Collagen is vital for hair growth, furthermore, studies have shown that hibiscus may promote hair growth in animals.  Luscious Locks also can be used as a hair rinse or applied directly as a hair tonic.

healthy immunity tea

Hibiscus also pairs well with rooibos tea and we have created immune boosting Healthy Immunity tea, which makes a cup of rooibos tea with woody sweet undertones integrated with tangy hibiscus and spice from the ginger to finish. 

Both rooibos and hibiscus are well-known for their vitamin C content and ginger for its anti-bacterial properties.  To brew the perfect cup of Healthy Immunity tea, infuse 1 teaspoon of tea in a mug of filtered boiling water for 5 minutes.  You can re-use the infusion for a second brew.

We have also added hibiscus to Toxin Killer tea to help enhance the diuretic processes (hibiscus is believed to be a natural diuretic) and to support liver health.   Some studies show that hibiscus extracts might reduce liver damage and fatty liver.

Health Benefits of Hibiscus

  • Known for its high vitamin C content
  • Loaded with antioxidants
  • Contains natural diuretic properties
  • It may help lower blood pressure
  • Studies suggest hibiscus is good for liver health
  • Boost of collagen production
  • May help reduce cholesterol especially in diabetes

Is Hibiscus good for the skin?

Hibiscus is high in vitamin C which helps with collagen production.  Collagen is needed in the skin to give it elasticity and hydration.

Does hibiscus tea make you urinate more?

Yes, because it is a natural diuretic.

Is Hibiscus good for hair?

Yes ,as it contains high levels of vitamin C.

Hibiscus Tea Cocktail 

Hibiscus can be great in a cocktail if you are looking for a boozy drink with a healthy kick.  Berry Storm cocktail has been created by Camellia’s Tea House and it’s refreshing to drink on a hot sunny day.  


*50ml Very Berry tea infused Kraken rum

125ml Ginger beer

1 Dash Angostura bitters

Berries to garnish


Pour all the ingredients into a highball glass and top up with ice.  Decorate with berries.

*To make a batch of Very Berry tea infused Kraken rum, you will need to infuse 20g of Very Berry tea in 500ml Kraken rum for 1 hour.  For a stronger infusion, you can leave it for a few hours or overnight.

This recipe is a cold brew (link to cold brew vs hot brew blog) iced tea which requires a long- brewing time.  To speed up brewing, use a traditional hot brew method and allow the tea to cool and serve over ice.   Luscious locks blend is a nutritious and delicious tea when iced.

Cold Brew Luscious Locks


1 Litre filtered water

2 heap tablespoon Luscious Lock tea


In a glass jug mix water and tea leaves and leave overnight in the fridge.  Enjoy the next day as a refreshing hair and skin tonic.

Enjoy these fresh hibiscus ideas and happy tea drinking! 


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