Hibiscus Tea with Ginger & Vanilla

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!
Hibiscus Tea with Ginger & Vanilla ♥ KitchenParade.com, for anyone who wants to drink more water, great for Weight Watchers, Medifast and other diet programs.

But First, A Thank You

I so appreciate 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.) Read on ...

Coffee Failed Me.

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 with free shipping, you know, thanks to Amazon Prime!

Hibiscus Tea with Ginger & Vanilla: Chilled, So Refreshing for Summer

So all summer long, Hibiscus Tea became my refreshing, caffeine-free morning drink and a quick caffeine-free pick-me-up in the afternoon.

A cold glass of Hibiscus Tea really hits the spot on a hot summer's day!

Hibiscus Tea with Ginger & Vanilla: Hot, So Reviving for Winter

But if you think that it's only good cold, think again. It's so soothing and warming on a snowy winter day.

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.

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!

Do You Already Know Red Zinger Tea? Tazo Passion Tea?

Hibiscus Tea with Ginger & Vanilla ♥ KitchenParade.com, for anyone who wants to drink more water, great for Weight Watchers, Medifast and other diet programs.

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!

But Let's Do 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.)

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 organic dried hibiscus flowers in one-pound bags from Amazon every month, using the Prime program’s subscription service. It works out to about $.25 per day.

RESOURCE Davidson's Organics' organic hibiscus flowers. My Disclosure Promise


Hands-on time: 5 minutes
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.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Cup (with sugar-free vanilla syrup/real vanilla): 0/12 Calories; 0g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 0mg Sodium; 0/1g Carb; 0g Fiber; g Sugar; 0g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS Old Points 0 & PointsPlus 0 & SmartPoints 0 & Freestyle 0
FOR THE RECORD This is NOT a sponsored post. The organic 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

More Drink Recipes, Hot & Cold

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Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix Glöggi - Mulled Wine Sugar-Free Chai Tea
Cold-Brewed Coffee Beer & Ginger Ale My Perfect Sangria
~ more beverage recipes ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. I like my hibiscus tea with just lime slices - and during summer, I simply pour cold water over some hibiscus flowers in the evening and wake up to a "cold-brewed" jug of beautifully pink hibiscus lemonade/ice tea :)

  2. Aiii, even simpler, Pille! I've loved cold-brewed coffee, so yes, this makes sense. And the hibiscus color? Glory be.

  3. Looks wonderful!!!

  4. Anonymous1/16/2013

    Where do you get jars of fresh ginger? I've never seen that.

  5. Loved your article about hibiscus tea, a long time favorite of mine! I have never tried it with ginger and vanilla though and I can't wait to try!

    If you are ever looking for a change, peets hibiscus c is my most favorite. You can buy it in bags or by the pound. It is a little more expensive than the one you have but it has a touch of cinnamon ad something else that makes it outstanding, in my opinion! Here is the link if you are ever interested!

    Also, something that I really love , if you are in the habit of using loose teas often , is this tea pitcher, Takeya 64-Ounce Iced Tea Maker with Silicone Handle, Avocado/Olive. I use it for brewing hot teas, but what I love to do is make the pitcher up at night before I go to bed, just using regular temp tap water and 7 tsp of tea and pop it in the fridge. In the morning, when I get up, voila! perfectly made!

  6. This is a popular weght loss tea in Mexico! It acts as a diuretic. if you check at your local Mexican tienda, you should be able to get it for about $3 a pound!

  7. MissouriJane ~ Who knew?! You did, that’s who and now me. Thanks for letting me know! And I’ll totally check a tienda next time I’m down that way.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna