As I have been learning about Nigerian cuisine, one of the recipes I was most drawn to is called Zobo. A spiced hibiscus tea with as many variations as there are regions in West Africa – probably many more. We take the dried hibiscus leaves and steep them in water with any myriad of spices and fruits. I even came across a recipe which added dried chili flakes!
I sort of glanced at several recipes just to get a feel for the typical ingredients, then went to the store to get the hibiscus leaves. I bought 15 grams – 1/2 cup, thinking that would be plenty since dried herbs are usually very potent and a little goes a long way. I came home to try out this tea and looked at the recipes again. They all call for 1-2 cups of dried hibiscus leaves in 6 cups of water! Oh my! I used what I had, and I’m assuming I made a very weak tea. I need to get back to the market so I can try this tea at it full potency. As it is written below, I liked it quite a bit. The hibiscus flavor really came through and was accentuated by the spices. The fresh pineapple added a hint of natural sweetness, too, so I didn’t add any other sweetener. Abby and Katie liked the tea, but they wanted to add some simple syrup to it.
I can’t wait to do this recipe “the right way” and add tons of dried hibiscus for even more flavor. The dried hibiscus leaves are about the size of apple seeds, but when they are rehydrated while steeping, the bloom back into their full size! It’s fun to see the transformation – the kids thought it was cool, too.
- 15 grams (1/2 cup) dried hibiscus leaves
- 1 pineapple, chopped
- 6 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 inch piece ginger, smashed or sliced
- 6-8 cups water
- Place the hibiscus leaves in a colander and rinse under running water.
- Add the hibiscus leaves, pineapple, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger to a small (2 quart) pot.
- Fill the pot with water and place over medium-high heat.
- Once the water begins to boil, remove from the heat and allow the tea to steep 10 minutes.
- Strain the solids from the tea, and serve hot or cold.
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