Jamaica (pronounced ha-mai-ka) is a very typical agua fresca in Mexico that is made from dried hibiscus flowers. Agua fresca literally translates to “fresh water” in English and is a refreshing drink made by essentially infusing flavor into water or by blending water and a fruit. The three most popular aguas frescas found in Mexico are tamarindo (tamarind), horchata (a sweet rice flavor), and jamaica.
Jamaica is loaded with antioxidants and Vitamin C and offers many other health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, reducing blood sugar levels, and aiding with digestion. The tart and tangy beverage is also light and refreshing, making it perfect for hot summer days.
The basic recipe below is for a concentrate of the Jamaica. We make this and keep a pitcher in the fridge to mix with water, lemonade, or any of the other suggestions below. It can also be used to make delicious cocktails or popsicles.
If you have a Mexican market near you, they usually sell flor de jamaica (the dried hibiscus flowers) in bulk. You can also order them online.
To make the concentrate:
- 1 cup of dried flor de jamaica
- 1 large cinnamon stick
- 8 cups of water
- ¼ cup or sugar (optional)
- 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice (optional)
- Boil the water and cinnamon stick in a pot
- Once the water starts boiling, remove from heat
- Add sugar (if using) and stir to dissolve
- Add the flor de jamaica
- Let sit for 8 hours to steep
- Add fresh lime (if using)
To serve, the concentrate can be combined with water to your liking (start with a 1:1 ratio and adjust from there). You can also add in any of the additions below, or get creative and find your own. We love combining with fresh lemonade, or with tequila and lime for a refreshing cocktail!
- 1 piece of freshly grated ginger
- 1/2 cup muddled fresh mint
- 1 cup of lemon juice
- coconut water