Recipe: hibiscus tea lemonade
The US Pro Cycling Challenge has been touring Colorado this week and on Saturday, they came to Boulder and more specifically (for me), they climbed up to and through my town of Nederland (Ned) in the mountains, for a truly exciting day of racing. Tens of thousands lined the streets of Boulder and the finish up on the flanks of Flagstaff Mountain. Jeremy tracked the race progress online as they entered Boulder Canyon on their way up to Ned. It is a commute we both know well enough to drive in our sleep, and we were astounded at how quickly they passed each landmark (the tunnel, Sugarloaf, Boulder Falls, The Narrows). By the time Jeremy announced the peloton was at The Narrows, I packed my camera and we set off, out the front door.
neighbors waiting with great anticipation for the riders
We walked a quick five minutes to the race route and as I found a place to set up, Jeremy said the break had reached the dam. The road wasn’t packed with people, but there were a lot more than I have ever seen on that stretch of road before. Everyone was smiling, happy, excited. It was a gorgeous, sunny day. We knew the break was arriving in town as we heard a roar of cheering and cowbells rise from down the valley. Before we knew it, police vehicles were rounding the bend and then we caught sight of the first group as they climbed steadily up the hill.
the break (14 riders)
the chase (2 riders)
and the peloton
the rest of the pack
and away they go
How cool is that? Very freaking cool. But it was actually kinda hot (by my definition, which is anything above 70°F) and I thought about a nice cool glass of something or other as we walked back home with our neighbor. As far as I am concerned, anytime is a great time for lemonade – but really, it is quintessential summer, is it not? My beverage of choice is the Arnold Palmer: half iced tea and half lemonade. Lately, I’ve been digging on what I refer to as the hibi Palmer, but it is basically hibiscus tea lemonade.
dried hibiscus flowers from savory spice shop
all you need: sugar, dried hibiscus flowers, lemons
Never having been a fan of plain hibiscus tea, I was dubious when someone at Salto Coffee Works told me their hibiscus tea lemonade was very popular. But then I took a taste and yes, it’s amazingly refreshing, tart, and smooth. More fruity than an Arnold Palmer.
making sugar water
steep the dried hibiscus flowers in the hot sugar water
meanwhile, squeeze some lemon juice
I always spied dried hibiscus flowers in Latin markets, but I never knew what to do with them. They remained a bit of a mystery to me until I decided to make some hibi Palmers at home. For some strange reason, every place I went was completely out of dried hibiscus flowers – for several days. Eventually, I did get my supply from Savory Spice Shop in Boulder on a sweltering hot day in town. I couldn’t wait to get home and fix myself a glass.
strain the tea
add the lemon juice, then and water to taste
pour over ice
Aside from the fact that it tastes so summery smooth and bright, the color is just plain striking. I think of it as Nature’s Kool-Aid. Summer isn’t over, so I highly recommend whipping up a batch of hibiscus tea lemonade, otherwise your summer won’t be complete. It is a fantastic way to cool down. Grab a glass for yourself or if you’re feeling mingly, share a pitcher with friends at a picnic or barbecue.
Hibiscus Tea Lemonade
4 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup dried hibiscus flowers
1 cup lemon juice (about 4-6 lemons), fresh-squeezed
water to taste
Combine 4 cups of water and the sugar in a medium saucepan over high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring it to a boil. Remove the sugar water from the heat and stir in the dried hibiscus flowers. Cover the pan with a lid and let it steep for 20 minutes. Strain the hibiscus tea through a sieve into a pitcher. Discard the flowers. Stir the lemon juice into the hibiscus tea. Add water to taste. Serve over ice. Makes about 2 quarts (depending on how much you water it down).