Highly Quaffable: Hibiscus Sunset Cooler

By Jeannette Ordas of Everybody likes Sandwiches

For years, I've been wanting to make hibiscus iced tea, but I've had a hard time finding the dried hibiscus blossoms needed for such a task. If anyone has any leads in Vancouver, leave a comment! So  instead, I settled on purchasing an herbal tea blend that I found at my local grocer.


My first go-around with this herbal tea was pretty disappointing. My iced tea was weak and tasteless. At first I blamed the tea, but I soon realized it was the me, the maker at fault. Ooops! The next time, I added in way more tea bags than I would if I was making iced tea from black tea bags. Problem solved. 

The resulting iced tea was deep red and gorgeous. It also tasted good and because I was using a "hibiscus wild berry blend", I didn't feel the need to add sugar. It made for a quaffable sipper. 

But instead of leaving well enough alone, I went a step further and added pineapple juice to the mix. Whoa! It tasted exactly like fruit punch – well, a delicious, refreshing not-very-sweet fruit punch. I loved it. 

So I was surprised to see that in my recent library book (the Cafe Flora cookbook), a recipe for a drink called Hibiscus Sunset. It was practically the same ingredient list as my drink, except the name was sexier and it involved a clever little trick in pouring the drink. Pour the juice into the glass, then slowly pour the iced tea over a large soup spoon. This creates a layer, an ombre effect, that is quite gorgeous. It looks just like the stunning red sunsets we've been having here in Vancouver!

So drink the iced tea without the juice if you want something simple or go for the gusto and run the juice over a spoon to make something impressive to serve your guests. 

Hibiscus Sunset Cooler
If you like a sweet tea, you can add in sugar when the tea is hot and stir to blend. I

6 bags of hibiscus blended tea (I used a hibiscus berry blend, but Red Zinger is also perfect here)
4 cups boiling water

ice cubes

pineapple or orange juice or lemonade

Remove tea bag tags and strings (who wants to drink steeped paper?) and add into a glass or ceramic pitcher. Pour boiling water over top and let cool on counter. Move to the fridge to get cold. 

Fill a juice glass with ice and pour in pineapple or orange juice to the halfway point*. Rest a tablespoon or soup soon on the inside rim of the glass and slowly pour the iced tea over the spoon to fill the glass. This creates a layer so the yellow or orange juice is at the bottom while the red tea sits on top. It's pretty and it's delicious. Win!

* Note: filling the glass halfway with juice makes the best "sunsets" but I prefer the taste of less juice. Let your tastebuds or your eyeballs be the judge!

Jan Halvarson


ashley said...

i like to add apple juice and some fresh mint!

Heldin des Chaos said...

Thats very pretty, but if you sweeten your tea with sugar this trick won't work! This is basicly like in a Tequila sunrise where you have grenadine sirup on the bottom of your glass, the sweet juice is heavier than the tea and therefore stays at the bottom of the glass for some time.

teacakemake said...

I picked up some tea bags with hibiscus in, they are so delish! If it was ever warm in the UK this'd be a perfect cooler!

Tanis Alexis said...

Jeanette! :) Get thee to the Famous Foods shop, they have dried hibiscus flowers (& all other awesome hard to find herbs) there. since moving to the Island, it is one of the big things I miss in Vancouver. :)

Jodi said...

Hibiscus flowers are used to make an iced tea in Mexico called Jamaica - which is also the name of the flowers in Spanish!

You can find them in Mexican import stores like Los Guereros at Kingsway and Joyce. I've also found them at Galloways on Marine Drive in South Burnaby. Someone also mentioned Famous Foods which is also on Kingsway.

Good luck - they make very good iced teas!

Christina Conrad said...

Cafe Flora is amazing! Love the plug to this fantastic restaurant.


Peggy said...

simply stunning! Definitely making this soon!

kickpleat said...

Heldin, good to know about the sugar. Another reason why I don't like sweetened teas :)

Thanks so much Tanis & Jodi for the Vancouver hibiscus haunts! I love Jamaica and have always wanted to make my own as most restos make them way too sweet! Thank you!!!

Lydia said...

I was going to say Famous Foods too. They also have a nice hibiscus blend which I actually prefer over straight up flowers...it has orange in it or something. It's all in the herbs section.

tom@morethanpepper.com said...

sweet blog my fellow vancouver blogger. Sweet pics

Heather Belle said...

"except the name was sexier" Haha X-) Just found your lovely little blog. This drink sounds fantastic! I'll have to give this one a try!
xo Heather

sweet harvest moon said...


Rachel said...

Quidditas on Commercial & 3rd has dried hibiscus flowers in their big wall of herbs.