There are several different flowers referred to as hibiscus however the hibiscus that is used to produce tea is the Rosella– Hibiscus sabdariffa. These plants are kin to okra, this is very obvious when you look at the plant. Like okra hibiscus need heat. They are best suited for zones 8-11.
The plants will produce from the bottom working its way up. Hibiscus produces a pretty bloom usually pink. The bloom is identical to an okra flower. The part of the plant harvested is the calyx. When the bloom falls from the plant the remaining is what will be harvested. The plant will continue to produce till well into the fall season.
The calyx is used for Agua de Jamaica (a Mexican drink), tea, jams, and syrups . The flavor is tart so a sweetener is suggested. The leaves are also eatable.
To harvest the hibiscus simply pop them off the plant. They are easy to remove. Once you have harvested the fruit, the calyx needs to be removed from the seed pod.
Slit the side of the fruit at the smallest point. Peal the calyx from the seed pod. There will be staining on fingers from this but it comes off easy enough. Another way for removing the seed pod is to cut the bottom of the fruit and ‘push’ the seed pod out of the calyx. This method is great for small hibiscus fruit but not so much for larger ones.
The hibiscus is ready to use, it can also be dried and stored for later use. I use a standard food dehydrator. Store in an air tight container.
Hibiscus are used for flavor and for medicinal uses.
“Hibiscus ( Hibiscus rosa-sinensis , Family: Malvaceae) acts as an antiseptic, aphrodisiac, astringent, cholagogue, demulcent, digestive, diuretic, emollient, purgative, refrigerant, resolvent, sedative, stomachic and tonic. All the parts of Hibiscus plant are useful medicinally. Hibiscus leaves are emollient, diuretic, refrigerant and sedative. Leaves, seeds, and mature calyces exhibit diuretic and antiscorbutic properties. Succulent calyx, boiled in water, is used as a drink in bilious problems. Fruits act as antiscorbutic. Bitter roots are used as aperitive and tonic. Mucilaginous leaves can be used as an emollient and as a soothing cough remedy. Hibiscus leaves make excellent shampoo. Flower extract has been used in many folk remedies for liver disorders, high blood pressure and as aphrodisiac. Hibiscus relieves stomach problems, sweetens breath and soothes nerves. An extract of the hibiscus flowers lower cholesterol content in blood serum and helps to prevent oxidation of LDL (bad cholesterol). Daily uptake of Hibiscus tea is useful for reducing high blood pressure.”