Agua de Jamaica Cooler with Jicama, Coconut Cream, Lime & Habanero!

A Frothy but Thin Spicy-Sweet Smoothie

A Frothy but Thin Spicy-Sweet Smoothie

For this week’s Fiesta Friday, with it’s close proximity to Cinco De Mayo, I’m going latin with a wonderful smoothie that uses homemade hibiscus tea as a base.

First, I want to acknowledge the fantastic work of our master party animal Angie, who has created a weekly event that has really become a fun, resourceful and delicious community.  She made an outrageous pizza this week with my favorite, carrot tops!  Carrot top is the new basil, or parsley!

I now look forward each week to Friday when I can sit down and mingle with the other guests.  I have met so many wonderful cooks and people, and I also appreciate the creativity and work of our rotating mystery hosts and loyal cooks such as Prudy, Hilda, La Petite PaniereSaucy, Ngan, Catherine, Patty, Nancy, Selma, Sonal, Jillian and on and on!

If you visit a taqueria this Cinco De Mayo in California and you’ll likely find enormous containers of ague frescas next to the soda dispenser. The usual flavors are horchata (a sweet rice drink), tamarindo (from tamarind, and agua de jamaica (pronounced hah-MY-kah), an infusion of dried red hibiscus flowers. I love all three versions and have a hard time deciding, but the ruby red color of the hibiscus usually wins me over. The taste is slightly tart and refreshing. Peet’s Coffee Shop makes a really strong version of ague de jamaica, but they call it Hibiscus C Tea.  It is super tart and sweet at the same time, and very quenching on a hot day.

Hibiscus tea (an infusion actually) is popular all around the world. The hibiscus flower grows in tropical and semi-tropical climates. Hibiscus trees are all over Los Angeles, and you can find the dried hibiscus flowers at almost any Mexican market (look for “flor de jamaica”), or you can order them online.

The tea on it’s own is a natural diuretic, apparently cleansing for the kidneys, and very high in Vitamin C. There’s also at least one government study that shows that hibiscus tea lowers blood pressure.

We have a healthy hibiscus shrub in our front yard, so I went foraging last week.

Hibiscus Shrub

Hibiscus Shrub


Malaysian Hibiscus Stigma, Macro Shot

The above photo is a file from the Wikimedia Commons. Commons is a freely licensed media file repository.  Since my attempts to shoot a macro with my iPhone yielded less than ideal results, I am featuring this lovely photo of the Hibiscus Stigma.

Here are some shots of our own fresh hibiscus flowers:

Hibiscus foraged from our front yard

Hibiscus foraged from our front yard



In a different light


As Macro as I Get

Drying on the LA Times

Drying on the LA Times

After drying for a day in the sunshine I transferred them to the oven for 1/2 hour at 200 degrees.


Dried and Ready to Steep

Then into a pot with water, honey and lime juice:

Ready to Simmer

Ready to Simmer

After steeping (I like to steep it overnight to make it doubly strong, and doubly delicious), I strained it and transferred the tea to a blender, then added Jicama, Lime Juice, Coconut Cream, and Habanero Pepper.

Table's Set

Table’s Set

One for the Road

One for the Road

I really encourage you to try this recipe because it’s not often you see smoothies that have a spice kick to them.  It’s kind of a thin smoothie, and may work really well for your post exercise refreshment during the summer!  Here’s the Recipe:

2 quarts water
1 cup dried hibiscus flowers

Lime juice (optional)

1/8 cup honey

1/2 large jicama, peeled and chopped

1 8 oz can coconut cream

1 small habanero pepper

1. Put 4 cups of the water and the honey in a medium saucepan. Heat until the honey is dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in the dried hibiscus flowers.

2. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes. Strain into a pitcher and discard the used hibiscus flowers

(At this point you can store ahead the concentrate, chilled, until ready to make the drink.)

3. Add remaining 4 cups of water (or if you want to chill the drink quickly, ice and water) to the concentrate, and chill. Alternatively you can add ice and chilled soda water for a bubbly version. Add a little lime juice for a more punch-like flavor.

4. Transfer to blender with jicama, pepper, coconut cream and lime juice.  Whiz up, pour and enjoy!



31 Comments on “Agua de Jamaica Cooler with Jicama, Coconut Cream, Lime & Habanero!

  1. That does look like the perfect summer drink – spicy but still light. Beautiful pictures too!

  2. Homemade hibiscus tea- Wow! I love jicama too, but I’ve never had it in a drink! So creative and lovely 🙂

  3. Your hibiscus shrub is gorgeous…we can only grow them in pots here with our cold winters…I have a bit of flower envy!
    As for the smoothie, it sounds so refreshing and light. Love the bit of heat you added via the habanero, too. You (along with Angie and Hilda) are really encouraging me to go out and forage myself. Very inspiring!

  4. Woohoo! I’m so going to try this. I have a hibiscus thicketty. Yes, I call it a thicketty. Pretty but too thick, hahaha…. Time to give it a trim and flowers will be the first casualty :-).

  5. Sue, I need some of this tea right about now. We’ve hit high 80s/low 90s up here and I’ve been sweating non-stop since noon yesterday. I really enjoyed your series of photos for this post. Your hibiscus flowers are so pretty! And the coconut in the smoothie makes me an automatic fan. Yum!

    • thanks Patty, coconut cream . . . I like it so much better than the milk. It’s only about 92 today here . . . I too have been perspiring a little more than I like. Have a fabulous weekend with lots of fun and food.

  6. And to think for the last two years, I’ve just let my hibiscus flowers bloom and wilt away and haven’t done anything with them! Of course, now that I know what to do with them circa your post, I find that my plant is showing signs of disease…sigh. This cooler looks beautiful and perfect for the warm weather we’re experiencing. I wonder if I should pick my neighbor’s hibiscus plant?…I’ll ask first, of course. 🙂 happy Friday!

    • Hahahah that made me laugh so hard, “I wonder if I should pick my neighbor’s plant,” why yes, and you can offer her some tea! There’s also a really interesting couple of traditional recipes online for hibiscus flower enchiladas! But so sorry to hear about your diseased plant! Regarding lost foraging time, for the last 5 years I’ve lived at this house I haven’t picked nary a flower! Kind of getting out of hand though . . . I mean this weekend I was picking dandelion out of the cement cracks in my patio. Have a great weekend!

      • I know, I’ve seen so many plants and flowers on your instagram! It’s awesome you can forage and make something with what you find. Since I’ve been reading Hilda’s, Angie’s, and your posts, I’ve been finding myself eyeing all the plants and flowers I see when I take my walks. I’m not brave enough to pick them and make anything quite yet…

      • I need to use my alias instagram accounts more because I am a little out of control with gramming. You know, most of the time I just like buying stuff a whole lot more . . . I do not have farmer or forager or even camping genes.

  7. What intriguing flavours, Sue! I’ve had hibiscus tea just with the dried flowers and a little honey, but these additional ingredients especially the coconut cream would take it to another level! Such a great drink to bring to Fiesta Friday!! 😀
    PS, thank you for the shout-out, it means a lot. And I completely agree with what you said about the wonderful bunch of FF people, including yourself!

    • Sure Saucy! You did a great job of hosting and I hope you try the cooler, it’s a tad spicy but delicious!

  8. So beautiful! I just love the intense colour of hibiscus and love how it transforms into this festive drink! Perfect of FF!

  9. I love hibiscus tea and I’m going to take great delight in your creative concoction. It will be perfect on those hot summer nights on the deck. You are so talented and everyone I meet in Fiesta Friday blog hops is too.

  10. Jicama is something I’ve been noticing on blogs recently, but it’s not available over here. So I can’t imagine its flavour. I do like hibiscus flowers, though. And I love anything to do with coconut. Interesting that there’s an habanero in there as well! Do like a bit of heat. Sighs, bring on summer – instead of this very cold Spring we’re having.

    • Sigh . . . . Jicama tastes like a raw potato but slightly sweeter and not as dense. More light and wet like a cucumber without the seeds, except with a starchy flavor. Crunchy, sweet, starchy. Thank you for hosting and I am really enjoying your blog which has a strong personal personality, which I like.

  11. Pingback: Shout-Out Sunday & An Embarrassment of Riches, Part 2 | feasting with friends

  12. I just love aqua de jamaica. Your added flavours must take this drink to a whole other level! Can’t wait to give this a try.

    • Thank you. It’s crazy, I’ve had this bush for 5 years and haven’t picked a single flower until this year. And now all of a sudden I’m seeing them everywhere . . . neighbor, little lot in front of our bank, I even found a red (not pink) bush down the street that is gorgeous.

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