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Steeping. It’s become my favorite word of the past week. Steeping is the graceful act of soaking either a food or tea (in this case a flower) in water or other liquid (such as simple syrup) to extract its flavor. The extraction is done slowly, seducing the flavors to cross to the wet side. Steeping is a sexy word, no way around it. If you’re uncomfortable with the word sexy, might as well leave now because I will be saying sexy a few more times.
Another sexy word is Hibiscus. Hibiscus flowers, for those of you new to this sexy word, is said to come from the Malvaceae family. Wikipedia says it is also know as flor de jamaica and rosemallow. Seriously, rosemallow? Are we striving for the sexiest post ever?! In Dominican Republic, we call Hibiscus flowers, “Cayenas” and they can be found almost everywhere: your backyard, your front garden, the sidewalks and entrances to public buildings.
In the culinary world, you will typically see Hibiscus flowers used for tea. This tea is known to be diuretic as well as a great source of Vitamin C. It’s a gorgeous deep pink color when brewed correctly and the flavors are herbal and with cranberry undertones; tart and sweetened with cane sugar, it makes for a great refreshing summer drink! I’m thinking of turning the next batch into sexy Hibiscus powder and adding it to my baked goods: cookies, cakes, macarons? Endless possibilities!
Another way I’ve used Hibiscus flowers is in syrup. These hibiscus flowers in syrup are processed in Australia and are expensive: US$1 EACH and come in small or large jars. They are well worth the price for celebrations to drop into champagne glasses, as well as on desserts. The process intrigued me and I tried to recreate the same at home, only to find the dried flowers did not work when steeped in simple syrup. They turned soft, but I didn’t mind. I am in LOVE with the sexy, steeped liquid flavored with the Hibiscus flowers.
|These are the oldest, most scratched baking sheets in my house. I used them to sun dry the flowers on them!
Notes on Hibiscus in syrup: I’m going to assume they soak them in syrup FRESH, so they maintain the crisp texture. But then I think, the flowers LOOK dried; smaller, a little shriveled. Reading through the site didn’t help at all, they really don’t share their trade secret and I don’t think I would either. If you haven’t ever tried the product, it’s well worth the bucks! How do YOU think they do it?
So, what did I do with that sexy, gorgeous simple syrup? I made iced tea of course! The classic green tea is reinvented with the addition of Hibiscus syrup, addition lovely berry undertones.
Sexy Hibiscus Iced Tea Method
Simply cold steep green tea overnight and sweeten to taste with the Hibiscus syrup. Serve over ice and decorate with an edible flower and you’re ready to receive the First Day of Summer (TODAY!) with a smile! To turn this into an adult beverage, mix with rum. (When making iced tea, be sure to steep in cool water and not traditionally brew it in hot water and then cool. Going from hot to cold tea will tend to add a bitterness to your tea. Steeping overnight is sexier!)
Have you ever tried Hibiscus flowers in any shape or form? #hibiscuslove