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Hibiscus Lemonade

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Indulge in the vibrant hues and rich flavors of tradition with this Hibiscus Lemonade featuring fresh strawberries and raspberries. Inspired by the cultural significance of the iconic “red drink” in the Black community, this refreshing twist on a classic recipe offers a delightful blend of nostalgia and freshness, making it a perfect addition to any spring and summertime gathering.

A couple years ago, we had the opportunity to photograph the legendary Jessica B. Harris’ Sparkling Raspberry Ginger Lemonade for EatingWell. Inspired by that recipe, we decided to put our own spin on the nostalgic red drink by making this Hibiscus Lemonade with strawberries and raspberries!

IYKYK: In the Black community, the red drink (usually Kool-Aid, punch, or red soda) holds significant cultural and historical importance. It evokes memories of childhood and family gatherings, where it is often served during special occasions and celebrations. This sweet, red hibiscus lemonade is an ode to that.

What is Hibiscus?

Hibiscus is a plant native to West Africa that was later cultivated in Jamaica. Over time and throughout the African diaspora, hibiscus tea, also known as agua de Jamaica, spread from country to country and is now a popular drink that can be found all around the world. 

What you’ll love about this recipe:


  • REFRESHING – The combination of sweet berries, tangy hibiscus tea, and tart lemonade creates a refreshing and vibrant flavor profile that is perfect for quenching thirst on a hot day.
  • PRESENTATION – The vibrant colors of the berries and hibiscus tea make this hibiscus lemonade visually stunning, making it an attractive beverage to serve at parties, gatherings, or special occasions.
  • DIY – Hibiscus lemonade can be enjoyed on its own as a refreshing drink or used as a base for creative cocktails and mocktails. It pairs well with a variety of dishes and can be served alongside brunch, lunch, or dinner.

Ingredients

  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Hibiscus Tea Bags
  • Lemonade
  • Ice

Note: You can typically find hibiscus tea bags at well-stocked grocery stores, health food stores, or online retailers. Brands such as Tea and Spice Exchange, Traditional Medicinals, Davidson’s Organics, and The Republic of Tea are known for producing high-quality hibiscus tea bags.

Recipe Variations and Substitutions

  • Mixed Berry Hibiscus Lemonade: Instead of using just strawberries and raspberries, mix in other berries such as blueberries or blackberries.
  • Sweeteners: Replace the granulated sugar with honey or agave for a natural sweetener alternative. Adjust the amount to taste.
  • Sparkling Hibiscus Lemonade: Add a splash of lemon-lime soda, sparkling water, or club soda to the hibiscus lemonade for a fizzy, refreshing twist.
  • Citrus Infusion: Enhance the citrus flavor by adding slices of lemon, lime, or orange to the pitcher. Let the citrus slices infuse in the hibiscus lemonade for added brightness.
  • Alcoholic Variation: For an adult-friendly version, add a splash of vodka, gin, or rum to the hibiscus lemonade for a delicious cocktail. Garnish with fresh berries or citrus slices.
  • Frozen Hibiscus Lemonade Slush: Blend the lemonade with ice cubes to create a frozen slushy consistency. Serve in glasses with a straw for a cool and refreshing treat on hot days.
  • Minty Hibiscus Lemonade: Add fresh mint leaves to the hibiscus tea while steeping for a refreshing, minty flavor. Garnish each glass with a sprig of mint for an extra pop of color and aroma.

How to Make Hibiscus Lemonade

  1. Get your saucepan out and heat it up on medium. Toss in those juicy strawberries and raspberries, and sprinkle in your granulated sugar. Give it a good stir until the sugar melts and the berries start to release their juices.
  2. Now, pour that berry mix into your blender and blend it until it’s super smooth. Then, grab a fine mesh strainer and strain the puree into a big bowl to get rid of those seeds. Let the berry syrup cool down a bit.
  3. Next, grab a large pitcher and fill it with about 4 cups of boiling water. Toss in your hibiscus tea bags and let them steep for about 5 minutes. Once they’ve done their thing, pull out those tea bags and let the tea chill until it’s room temp. You can put it in the fridge to speed up the process.
  4. Now, pour that berry syrup into the hibiscus tea and add in your lemonade. Your favorite store-bought brand is fine. Give it all a good mix until it’s nicely combined.
  5. Pop that pitcher into the fridge and let it chill for a good 2 to 4 hours.
  6. When it’s nice and cold, grab some glasses, fill ’em up with ice, and pour in that refreshing hibiscus lemonade.

Recipe Tips & Tricks

  • Choose Fresh, Ripe Berries: Pick ripe strawberries and raspberries for the best flavor. Look for berries that are brightly colored, plump, and free from bruises or mold.
  • Adjust Sweetness to Taste: Taste the berry syrup before combining it with the hibiscus tea and lemonade. If you prefer a sweeter lemonade, you can add more sugar to the berry syrup until it reaches your desired level of sweetness.
  • Strain Thoroughly: Make sure to strain the berry puree through a fine mesh strainer to remove all the seeds. This step ensures a smooth and seed-free berry syrup, resulting in a better texture for the lemonade.
  • Use High-Quality Tea Bags: Choose high-quality hibiscus tea bags for the best flavor. If you prefer, you can use loose leaf hibiscus tea and strain it before combining with the berry syrup and lemonade.
  • Allow Sufficient Chilling Time: For optimal flavor, allow the berry hibiscus lemonade to chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 to 4 hours before serving. This allows the flavors to meld together and ensures a refreshing, cold beverage.
  • Garnish for Presentation: Garnish each glass of lemonade with fresh berries, lemon slices, or mint leaves for an extra pop of color and flavor. This adds a decorative touch and enhances the overall presentation of the drink.
  • Make Ahead: You can prepare the berry syrup and hibiscus tea in advance and store them separately in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, simply combine with the lemonade for a quick and easy refreshment option.

What to Serve with Hibiscus Lemonade

In the Black community and at cookouts, red drinks (usually Kool-Aid or soda) are often served alongside a variety of delicious soul food dishes. While this Hibiscus Lemonade isn’t your typical “red drink”, we like to pair it with traditional soul food dishes you might find at a cookout or gathering:

  • Barbecue Ribs: Smoked pork spare ribs seasoned with dry rub and cooked low and slow until they are tender and juicy.
  • Red Velvet Cake: It’s a classic soul food dessert recipe layered with rich and decadent homemade cream cheese buttercream frosting.
  • Potato Salad: Our potato salad has the best creamy texture and tangy flavor, with ingredients like dill pickle relish, mustard, hard-boiled eggs, and seasonings.
  • Baked Beans: Flavorful baked beans with ground beef is a classic barbecue side dish that’s as convenient as it is delicious.
  • Mac and Cheese: Our recipe features cheddar, Monterey jack, and mozzarella, and is made without a roux. It’s decadent and comforting, and an absolute must-try for anyone looking to savor a taste of the South.
  • Fried Catfish: This Southern Fried Catfish has a crispy golden brown cornmeal crust and is seasoned to perfection with fish fry seasoning.
  • Fried Chicken: Crispy, golden, and full of flavor! We skipped the buttermilk soak and embraced a salt, sugar, and water brine for juiciness for this recipe. Our blend of flour, cornstarch, and seasonings guarantees an irresistibly crispy coating every time.

FAQ

Can I make Hibiscus Lemonade in a larger batch?

Yes, you can easily double or triple the recipe to accommodate a larger group. Just make sure to adjust the ingredient quantities accordingly.

How long should I steep the hibiscus tea bags in the boiling water?

Steep the hibiscus tea bags in the boiling water for about 5 minutes. Longer steeping may result in a stronger, more tart flavor.

Can I use frozen berries instead of fresh ones?

Yes, you can use frozen berries if fresh ones are not available. Allow them to thaw before using and adjust the sweetness as needed since frozen berries may release more liquid.

Summary

This Hibiscus Lemonade recipe is a refreshing homage to the cultural significance of the beloved “red drink.” Whether enjoyed at family gatherings or casual get-togethers, savor the vibrant colors and fruity taste of this delightful beverage, sure to evoke memories and create new ones for generations to come.

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Berry Hibiscus Lemonade

  • Author: cooks with soul
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: drink

Description

Inspired by the cultural significance of the iconic “red drink” in the Black community, this refreshing twist on a classic recipe offers a delightful blend of nostalgia and freshness, making it a perfect addition to any springtime gathering.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 cups raspberries
  • 1 cup strawberries, hulled
  • 1 cup sugar (plus more to taste)
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 4 hibiscus tea bags
  • 2 cups lemonade
  • Ice


Instructions

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine strawberries and raspberries. Add granulated sugar and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved, and the berries have released their juices.
  2. Transfer the berry mixture to a high-performance blender and puree until smooth. Pour the puree through a fine mesh strainer set over a large bowl to remove seeds. Discard the seeds and set the berry syrup aside to cool.
  3. In a large pitcher, pour 4 cups of boiling water. Steep the hibiscus tea bags in the hot water for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags and allow the tea to cool to room temperature.
  4. Add the berry syrup to the hibiscus tea. Pour in the lemonade and stir until well combined.
  5. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 to 4 hours.
  6. Once chilled, serve over ice and enjoy.

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