Agua de jamaica is a staple agua fresca flavor made with dried hibiscus flowers.
Jamaica (pronounced “HAH-MY-CAH” in English; not like the country Jamaica) is a simple but unique drink, and has only two ingredients other than water. Aguas frescas—literally, “fresh water” fruit drinks—are very common all over Mexico. They come in many flavors: horchata (made with a rice-base), sandía (watermelon), agua de piña (pineapple), limón (lime), tamarindo (tamarind), naranja (orange), agua de mango and so on.
There are a lot of places in Mexico where you can buy aguas frescas out on the street, in the market, or as pre-made powder mixes. Most people make them at home from scratch because it’s so easy. Every time we visit family in Mexico, nearly every meal made at home is accompanied by an agua fresca.
Jamaica is made like tea, infusing the flavor and purple-red color of hibiscus calyces.
Like tea, jamaica is also a natural diuretic so don’t go drinking the whole pitcher in one day. (Yes, I once did that. You might also want to avoid drinking too much jamaica before bedtime.) The only real variation among recipes are the ratios used of sugar to water, and whether or not you dilute the juice (and if so, how much) when serving.
Some households serve their agua de jamaica a bit more tart like cranberry juice; we like ours a little on the sweeter side. I dilute it by adding half a glass of water to half a glass of juice.
I prefer a brand of granulated cane sugar called Zulka, which is Mexican, non-GMO, vegan-friendly and can be substituted 1:1 with processed white sugar. You can generally find this brand in all Mexican markets, many Latin American specialty grocers and even some mainstream retailers such as Target and Walmart.
Agua de jamaica
Yield 6 cups concentrated juice (should be diluted before consuming)
Agua de jamaica is a classic Mexican agua fresca recipe made with dried hibiscus flowers.
- 2 cups (about 2 ounces in weight) dried flor de jamaica (hibiscus flower calyces)
- 3/4 to 1 cup Zulka morena granulated cane sugar
- 8 cups water
- Bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a non-corrosive pot and add the flowers and the sugar. Stir to wet all the flowers and dissolve the sugar, and allow to boil for 3-5 minutes undisturbed.
- Remove from heat, stir, and allow to steep and cool to room temperature for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Using a sieve over a pitcher, pour the liquid (with the flowers still in it) through the sieve to filter the flowers out. The flowers will have plumped up during rehydration. Press them against the sieve with your fingers or a spoon to extract any extra juice left inside.
- Refrigerate. When serving, cut with 50 percent water to dilute.
Total time includes 2 hours of cooling time for the concentrated juice to come to room temperature before serving or bottling and refrigerating.
*This recipe is vegan-friendly when using Zulka morena sugar.
MORE AGUAS FRESCAS RECIPES:
- Honeydew melon and cucumber (melón verde y pepino) agua fresca
- Mandarin orange (agua de mandarina) agua fresca
- Cantaloupe (agua de melón) agua fresca
- Red prickly pear (agua de tuna roja) agua fresca
OMG! Just last night over dinner with my friends from Ecuador we discussed whether or not Jamaica was the flor de Hibiscus. THANK YOU! I sent her your link. 🙂
Maura Hernández says
Hi Trisha, would love to hear more about the conversation. Glad I could help out 🙂
They sell flor de jamaica by the scoop out of a barrel at our grocery store and I never knew how to make it so I always buy it ready-made at the deli. This is easy, thanks for posting!
I just made it for the first time ever a few weekends ago. I was too lazy to make limeade, but I wanted to use the big jaron that we have, it’s so simple, yet so festive with it’s bright red color. I ran out of sugar, so I ended up using raw sugar. So I guess that will be my spin to it.
Maura Hernández says
Jamy, I’d love to see a photo of the jamaica flowers in your grocery store. The only place I’ve ever seen them in a barrel like you’re describing is in the open-air markets in Mexico City.
Prado, the raw sugar is a very similar taste to the cane sugar. When I come over in a few weeks I’ll bring some cane sugar to show you the difference in taste and color compared to raw sugar.
Thats Jamaica’s favorite drink during the December holidays..with a little wine added to it.
Arthur Nicholls says
Agua de Jamaica is one of my favorite drinks. I learned to make it in Nicaragua. Try adding large slices of fresh ginger to the boiling water. It really helps add another dimension (bite) to the sweet and floral. Oh and if you’re feeling adventurous add some Flor de Caña and a dash of sparkling water.
I´ve never heard about ginger, but I´m sure it´s a good idea. I love it some lime juice. Flor de Caña and sparkling water? That sounds good.
Lauren Smith says
My Mexican boyfriend is obsessed with this drink and was so pleased that I made it for him and got it just right. Thank you!