Instead of adding yet another serve of Hummus and flat bread to the 10 others on the table at your next Hafla, consider brewing up some Karkaday! Hibiscus tea is ubiquitous in Egypt and a refreshing drink often fondly remembered by returned travellers. Karkaday is reputed to have been a favoured drink of the Pharaohs and it is no wonder.
An herbal tea drink consumed both hot and cold, it’s loaded with flavonoids which may:
- Help support memory and concentration
- Boost the effectiveness of vitamin C
- Help promote a healthy heart and immune system
- Support blood pressure and cholesterol levels already within the normal range
- Help you manage weight challenges
Karkaday is Hibiscus tea, an infusion made from the calyces (sepals) of the Hibiscus sabdariffa flower. It is popular throughout the world but goes by a variety of names. In Italy, Egypt and the Sudan it is referred to as Karkaday (spelling varies), but elsewhere the names vary. It is referred to as roselle (another common name for the hibiscus flower), flor de Jamaica in Latin America, Chai Kujarat in Iraq, Chai Torsh in Iran, gumamela in the Philippines, bissap or wonjo in West Africa, sorrel in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, red sorrelin the wider Caribbean, and other names in other regions.
You can buy hibiscus tea (or whatever it is called in your region) already made up as tea bags from a health food shop, herbalist or sometimes even from the supermarket. It can be served as a simple infusion (i.e. pour hot water on it) or work on an easy variation to impress your belly dance buddies. Hibiscus tea has a tantalisingly fresh, cranberry-like flavour and an attractive, deep red colour. Many drinkers like to add a sweetener like sugar to the beverage to reduce the tartness but that is a matter of taste.
Here is a suggested recipe that would give you approx. 14 cups full but you can make just one cup for yourself easily enough. Just put a small amount of hibiscus in an infuser (a use a tea bag), put it in your cup, pour on hot water from kettle and add sugar if its not sweet enough for you!
- 1 cup karkaday loose leaves (or hibiscus tea bags if not available)
- 1 gallon (3.8 Litres) water.
- ½ cup Sugar (optional)
- 1t orange flower water (optional)
- Boil water in a large saucepan.
- Add karkaday.
- Stir in sugar till it dissolves.
- For a stronger, redder tea – Leave for an hour.
- Drain karkaday with a fine holed sieve to get rid of leaves.
- Either cool in refrigerator or serve hot.
You can find other hibiscus recipes here
No need to wait for a Hafla though, next time you need a quick way to quench your thirst, why not try the tea used by the Pharaohs?
Have you tried karkaday? What’s your favourite recipe? Hot or cold? Comment below.
Today’s Make up Monday post didn’t happen due to internet problems I had to sort out when I should have been writing so I am posting this piece that I wrote a few weeks ago in its place. Stay tuned for more upcoming make-up posts and a piece on my adventures in Perth at the Western Australian Middle Eastern Dance Festival. Don’t forget to follow so you don’t miss out!