Hibiscus is a drink that I grew up on, mainly seeing it at Jamaican restaurants as a child in the form of a sorell drink. Its made out of dried hibiscus leaves, you’re probably familiar with the typical shot of a hummingbird sucking nectar out of the flow. Hibiscus comes in different types all from the same family. So you can imagine my brain activity when I discovered that sorell was also a drink in Nigeria. It’s called Zobo – my excitement to identify it when I was on vacation back in 2011 was matched with unimpressed stares from my cousin. I guess I was excited that I was able to see a similarity in Caribbean Afro foods. Something I’m learning more and more today.
Though this recipe is not the same as the sweet, dry zobo drink I grew up on. I often think of the goodness of the Elderberry drink from IKEA. I get when I actually go to IKEA, which is not that often. The sugar content is ridiculously high but I think a good base of nonalcoholic cordial could achieve it without a soda machine or corn syrup needed.
If you don’t have hibiscus leaves, you could use a tea bag instead. I love this drink because it saves me from ingesting high fructose corn syrup which means my waistline doesn’t suffer. You can also avoid the sugar all together and achieve a flavored soda. Equally as good!
- ¼ of hibiscus leaves or 2 teabags
- 2 cups of hot water
- ¼ of sugar (optional)
- ½ a lemon (juice)
- Pour hot water over the hibiscus leaves or tea and let it steep overnight
- The next day, separate liquid from leaves. You should be left with a very red/pink liquid
- Pour in a cup of hibiscus liquid in a medium saucepan and simmer on low heat
- Add in sugar, and stir until liquid starts to thicken, add in more liquid if liquid starts to get too thick
- Add the lemon juice and stir for about a minute
- Remove from heat and let cool
- Stir into a glass of seltzer and ice