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how about a glass of ahhh

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

bmc riders

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
[print recipe]

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).

13 nibbles at “how about a glass of ahhh”

  1. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says:

    I’m so jealous you got to see that race!! Looks like so much fun. And this tea?! Awesome!

  2. Faith says:

    Add some seltzer water and you have yourself a carbonated drink. This is a must try, thanks.

  3. Connie says:

    Love hibiscus tea! (We call it jamaica.) The color is so beautiful and vibrant–so refreshing!

  4. Colleen says:

    This is extremely similar to the Starbucks Passion Tea Lemonade beverage… without the large price tag. Awesome recipe, thanks!

  5. Eileen says:

    That lemonade looks perfect for a hot afternoon! I usually make big pitchers of iced tea–but now I think I should mix it up with a batch of this. :)

  6. shelley says:

    take those soaked hibiscus flowers and throw them in enchiladas, tacos, etc with plenty of onions and hot sauce, it is one of our favorites

  7. Yasmine says:

    Cold hibiscus tea is one of my most favorite drinks, ever! I love anything refreshing. I follow the same method, and sometimes I add in a cinnamon stick with the steeping dried flowers (if you’re not going to make it into a lemonade)- and it tastes amazing.

  8. Rocky Mountain Woman says:

    That looks so refreshing. It’s still quite hot here (unseasonably) , so I will have to try this. I’m a big Arnold Palmer fan also!

  9. Trish says:

    I don’t know why, but that sentence ‘the pelotan is at the Narrows’ has me giggling. it sounds like something a town crier might announce or someone of significance somewhere might bellow out to the crowd.

  10. Stephanie says:

    This lemonade is delicious! Arnold Palmers are my drink of choice at home, so this really intrigued me. Next time I’ll use honey vs. sugar. I love the red color! I can see serving this at a cocktail party for non-drinkers.

  11. jenyu says:

    Katrina – yeah, the race was pretty sweet! The tea isn’t bad either :)

    Faith – absolutely. I love it either way!

    Connie – totally agree.

    Colleen – wow, I didn’t know. I don’t go to Starbucks (in fact, I intentionally avoid it), so it’s good to know that you can make this yourself for a lot less than they charge :)

    Eileen – I like variety and so this gets good rotation with iced tea and other summery beverages.

    shelley – wow!! What a fantastic idea! Thanks!

    Yasmine – Cinnamon stick sounds lovely and I can just imagine how nice it would go with the hibiscus tea.

    Rocky Mountain Woman – yeah, I love APs!

    Trish – yeah, the narrows are a steep and narrow curvy section of the canyon… quite dangerous when icy.

    Stephanie – I love the red color too. I just love brightly colored foods and drinks that are natural!

  12. Hibiscus Tea Lemonade | PositiveFoodie says:

    […] lemonade is a fabulous drink if you want to have a refreshing relaxing drink. The recipe is from userealbutter blog, however we recommend using maximum 1/4 cup sugar or even enjoy the unsweetened […]

  13. Barbara says:

    Don’t add water; serve over TEQUILA and crushed ice. Instant Jamaicarita! So yummy!

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