THANK YOU! for all your stories and encouragement and commiseration from last week's post about switching from Weight Watchers to Medifast. It means the world to hear from you.
In fact, it was just two years ago this month when Kitchen Parade readers named the "healthy habits" they wanted to develop during the coming year. So-so-so many of us wanted to drink more water. (Remember? Check the comments here, Quick 'n' Easy Raw Salad.)
Last summer, Hibiscus Tea became my caffeine-free substitute for morning coffee. But this winter, it's become my primary drink, a couple of quarts a day. Drinking a lot of water is a goal that's common to Weight Watchers, Medifast and other weight-loss programs. If water just doesn't do it for you, Hibiscus Tea with Ginger & Vanilla just might be the answer. These past weeks, it's been my savior!
Aiii, people. Last summer, coffee failed me.
My once-a-day vacation treat, a Starbucks “venti unsweetened iced coffee with room for cream” took possession of my brain, leaving it wired like a corkscrew during the day and me, its mere vessel, tossing and turning at night. I quit cold turkey, a mistake that provoked a week’s misery of caffeine-withdrawal headaches.
But here’s the thing. If you don’t drink coffee in the morning, what exactly do you drink?
I missed the morning ritual of something warm and soothing as much as the aroma of brewing coffee. Tea? No, my sister inherited our mother’s tea gene, not me. Soda? No way. Juice? Too many calories for too little liquid.
By good luck, awhile back, I’d already begun brewing a carafe of Hibiscus Tea every day, thanks to inspiration via the Vanilla Ginger Bissap at the wonderful blog, Global Table Adventure. (How inspired? She posted Friday day, that night I ordered an entire pound of organic hibiscus flowers from Amazon, free shipping, you know, thanks to Amazon Prime.)
So all summer long, Hibiscus Tea became my refreshing, caffeine-free morning drink and a quick caffeine-free pick-me-up in the afternoon.
In the winter, I started Medifast (see Why I Switched from Weight Watchers to Medifast). Like many diet regimes, Medifast proscribes drinking a lot of water. I struggled to get down more than a few cups a day until I started making Hibiscus Tea again. What a savior! In fact, for me it's turned a "chore" into a real pleasure.
If you know Celestial Seasoning Red Zinger Tea or Tazo Passion Tea, you already know Hibiscus Tea. If you love the “sour” essence of rhubarb, you’ll love Hibiscus Tea. If you can’t drink coffee anymore, Hibiscus Tea just might save your mornings. If you need to drink more water, think about trying Hibiscus Tea!
DOING THE MATH I was a little taken aback, paying $13 for a pound of hibiscus flowers. Then I did the math and learned that a pound will yield 65 quarts of tea for about $.20 each, that's a nickel a cup. (That figure assumes using the "three big pinches" for the tea. I used that amount for months but recently have begun to use more, maybe even double.)
Besides, while $13 a pound isn't cheap, it is comparatively inexpensive versus the alternatives. If you buy Tazo Passion Tea in tea bags, it costs the equivalent of $47 a pound, Celestial Seasoning Red Zinger Tea, the equivalent of $43. (The actual delta between bulk hibiscus tea and packaged/branded hibiscus vary based on packaging and pricing but still, the multiples are huge.)
HOT or CHILLED
HIBISCUS TEA with GINGER & VANILLA
Time to table: 20 minutes – 2 hours
Makes 4 cups, easily adjusted
For a one-quart carafe
- 3 big pinches (2 tablespoons, 1/4 ounce, 20g) dried hibiscus flowers (or more to taste)
- 2 – 3 teaspoons grated ginger (see ALANNA’s TIPS)
- 2 – 3 teaspoons vanilla extract (see TIPS) or sugar-free vanilla syrup
- 4 cups boiling water
- For serving chilled, lime wedges
Drop hibiscus flowers, ginger and vanilla into a heat-safe carafe. Add boiling water.
TO SERVE HOT Let steep for 15 minutes, then pour Hibiscus Tea through a strainer into a warm mug.
TO SERVE CHILLED Let steep for 2 hours, the tea continues to brew even after it reaches room temperature. Fill a glass with ice and pour Hibiscus Tea through a strainer into the glass. Squeeze a wedge of lime into the glass.
TO MAKE AHEAD Make a big jug of tea and let steep for several hours. Strain out the hibiscus flowers and refrigerate the tea to later rewarm in the microwave or serve over ice. Keeps several days.
TO COLD-BREW Just add the flowers, ginger and vanilla to the carafe, fill with water, cover and refrigerate overnight. Perfection and extra-easy!
ALANNA’s TIPS I prefer ginger from a jar for Hibiscus Tea and even keep a small spoon in the jar full-time, just for making tea. Fresh-sliced ginger rounds work if you’re drinking the tea all at once, otherwise, the ginger turns slightly bitter if left to steep. We’ll go broke paying grocery-store prices for vanilla a tablespoon a day. So I buy a bottle of vodka (vanilla vodka, just for fun!) and put in a couple of just-split vanilla beans, then add spent vanilla beans as they’re available. Perfect! My friend Barbie gifted me a bag of dried lemon balm leaves from her garden and oh my, but two or three leaves steeped with the hibiscus flowers makes one powerful cup of hot tea. I like the particular sourness of long-steeped tea but others may want to strain out the hibiscus flowers along the way.
FOR THE RECORD This is NOT a sponsored post. The organic dried hibiscus flowers I buy from Amazon come from Davidson Tea, a company with no idea who I am nor that I’m writing this column about their bulk dried hibiscus flowers. It’s just making such a difference in my life, maybe it will in yours too. My Disclosure Promise
Hibiscus Tea with Ginger & Vanilla:
Chilled, So Refreshing for Summer
Hibiscus flowers are what put the “red" in Red Zinger Tea and Tazo Passion Tea, but it’s much cheaper to buy hibiscus flowers in bulk. I buy a one-pound bag of organic dried hibiscus flowers from Amazon every month, using the Prime program’s subscription service. It works out to about $.25 per day.
A cold glass of Hibiscus Tea really hits the spot on a hot summer's day, it’s my caffeine-free coffee substitute for a morning drink. But if you think that it's only good cold, think again. It's so soothing and warming on a snowy winter day. Cold or hot, hibiscus tea helps me drink more water during the day.
Even better news? Hot or chilled, Hibiscus Tea has hardly any calories!
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