Good god, sorrel is amazing. If you’ve never experienced the floral, spicy splendor of this hibiscus iced tea drink, read more about its rich culinary history here. It’s a refreshing beverage often associated with the Caribbean, but as Rosalind Cummings-Yeates points out, it traces its roots to West Africa:
Women [in Ghana] soak the plant and make batches of it to sell as a thirst quencher throughout the day. It’s popular throughout the region and called bissap in Senegal, Mali, and Burkina Faso; in Nigeria, it’s zobo. The hibiscus flower is native to West Africa and it has been used as a cooling drink for centuries. Today West African descendants have made the drink from the hibiscus sepal a popular libation everywhere, but especially in Jamaica, where it’s so integral that hibiscus is called flor de Jamaica (pronounced ha-mīka) all over Latin America.
If you’re already acquainted with the delights of sorrel, then you’ve probably found your mind wandering to it while cooped up in quarantine, dreaming of a beautiful sunshiny day where you could lounge in the warm, fresh air while sipping a tall glass of ruby red bliss. Well, my friends, those warmer days have finally arrived. Make yourself a bottle of sorrel concentrate, keep it in the fridge, and make your summer—and your entire life, really—exponentially better.
- 6 cups water
- 5 hibiscus tea bags
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1" nub fresh ginger, peeled
- 1 Tbsp. allspice berries
- 1 Tbsp. whole cloves
- Simple syrup, if desired
First, make sorrel concentrate: place all ingredients (except the simple syrup) in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to a simmer, lower heat to medium, and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let sit for at least two hours before straining into a container. To serve, mix one part sorrel concentrate with two parts cold water, a few ice cubes, some simple syrup if you’d like your sorrel to be sweet, and perhaps a slice of lime or candied ginger to garnish, if you’re feeling fancy.