Hibiscus Tamarind Aqua Fresca
Hibiscus Tamarind Aqua Fresca is a tangy, refreshing beverage that makes staying hydrated so much fun. Packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, both hibiscus and tamarind are a healthy alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages.
If you’ve been to a Mexican restaurant or A taqueria, you probably have seen pitchers of colorful drinks called aqua frescas, which in Spanish means cool or fresh water. Aquas frescas are non-alcoholic drinks made with fruits, flowers, cereals or seeds, then blended with sugar and water. In Texas, hibiscus, tamarind, and horchata are pretty common but I am sure the options are endless. Couple of years ago, I shared Cucumber Mint Chia Fresca which is very refreshing especially in Summer months and this year, I am switching things up with more tangy Hibiscus Tamarind Aqua Fresca.
Making Hibiscus Tamarind Aqua Fresca is extremely easy, like making tea. It calls for just few ingredients : dried hibiscus flowers, tamarind (pulp or concentrate paste), sugar, water, and optional add-ons like ginger & cinnamon.
The dried hibiscus flowers come from hibiscus flowers in many colors such as red, yellow, or peach-colored. The most popular variety Hibiscus sabdariffa (Roselle), the red kind are used mostly for medicinal and culinary purposes. You will find dried hibiscus often labeled as “flor de Jamaica” in Hispanic markets in the spice section while in the Middle Eastern grocery stores, they will be labeled as "karkady."
Hibiscus is rich in vitamin C & the red-hue is rich in anthocyanin (a type of flavonoid, a class of compounds with antioxidant effects) are suggested to have a positive role in many health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, immune health to name a few. Other anthocyanin rich foods include berries, red onions, kidney beans, pomegranates, grapes, tomatoes, acai, and tart cherries.
Hibiscus is pretty tart by itself but I added a dollop of tamarind concentrate to the mix to enhance the tartness even further. Tamarind is a tropical tree that produces bean-like pods and it is filled with seeds surrounded by a fibrous pulp. The pulp is sour when it’s young but as it ripens, it becomes more paste-like and develops a more sweeter-sour flavor.
You can find tamarind fresh in the pod, block of tamarind pulp, or concentrate, which can be used in sauces, marinades, glaze for meat or vegetables, or in cocktails. I used tamarind concentrate, which is a lot thicker and more concentrated in flavors. You can however, substitute paste with concentrate and vice versa if needed. Generally, it is suggested to that for 3 tablespoons of tamarind paste, you can mix 1 tablespoon of tamarind concentrate and 2 tablespoons of water.
To balance out the tart flavor, you definitely need to add sweetener like granulated sugar, honey, or jaggery to Hibiscus Tamarind Aqua Fresca. It’s really a matter of personal preference and depending on your taste, you can adjust the amount of sweetener. In addition to the sweetener, you can also add other flavorings like sliced ginger, lemon, or mint.
If you are looking for a refreshing, caffeine-free beverage, Hibiscus Tamarind Aqua Fresca is a great option to try. If you end up making Hibiscus Tamarind Aqua Fresca, let me know your thoughts or share your creation by tagging me on instagram @foodpleasurehealth
Hibiscus Tamarind Aqua Fresca
Yield ~ 4 cups
4 cups filtered water
1/2 cup dried hibiscus flower
1 heaping tablespoon tamarind concentrate
1/4-1/2 cup sweetener such as sugar or honey (adjust per your taste and if using honey, you may need less than sugar)
optional : ginger slices, cinnamon bark, mint (for garnish only)
1. In a medium sauce pan, bring water and dried hibiscus flower to a boil.
2.Remove from heat and add tamarind concentrate, sweetener and optional ingredients and let it steep for 30 minutes - 1 hour.
3. Once cooled, strain the mix and store in a jar or pitcher to chill.
4. Serve over ice or sparkling water for bubbly version.
5. Garnish with mint if desired.