Have you ever encountered a drink that left you utterly perplexed about its origins? Well, let me introduce you to Agua de Jamaica, a delightful Mexican concoction that has managed to confuse many with its enigmatic name. But fear not, for we are about to unravel the captivating story behind this vibrant and thirst-quenching beverage.

The Hibiscus Connection

At the heart of Agua de Jamaica lies a fascinating botanical ingredient: the hibiscus flower. Also known as sorrel or roselle, this edible species of hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is the star of the show. It’s the very same plant that lends its distinctive crimson hue and tart flavor to the beloved Mexican drink.

A Name Shrouded in Mystery

Now, you might be wondering, “Why on earth is a Mexican drink called ‘Jamaica’?” Well, the answer lies in the beverage’s roots (pun intended). Contrary to what its name might suggest, Agua de Jamaica didn’t originate in the Caribbean island nation. Instead, it traces its origins back to the very place that gave the hibiscus plant its ‘sorrel’ moniker – Jamaica.

From Jamaica to Mexico: A Culinary Journey

As the story goes, the hibiscus plant made its way from Jamaica to Mexico, where it quickly became a beloved ingredient in the local cuisine. The vibrant petals were steeped in water, creating a refreshing and tangy tea that captured the hearts (and taste buds) of the Mexican people. Thus, the name “Agua de Jamaica” (literally translating to “Jamaica Water”) was born, paying homage to the drink’s island roots.

A Global Phenomenon

About the Mexican Drink Agua de Jamaica RecipeBut Agua de Jamaica’s popularity didn’t stop at the borders of Mexico. This tantalizing beverage has made its way around the world, known by various names such as Italian tea, carcade, and, of course, hibiscus tea. In Egypt, it’s even a traditional toast at weddings, adding a touch of vibrancy to the celebrations.

The Recipe Revealed

Now that you’ve been captivated by the story behind Agua de Jamaica, it’s time to unveil the recipe for this tantalizing treat. Brace yourself for a burst of flavors that will transport you straight to the sun-drenched streets of Mexico.


  • 1 1/2 cups of dried hibiscus flowers (soft and pliable, if possible)
  • 4 cups of boiling water
  • 4 cups of cold water
  • 1 cup of sugar (or honey, for a touch of natural sweetness)
  • Lime wedges (optional garnish)


  1. Begin by steeping the dried hibiscus petals in the boiling water for about an hour. Alternatively, you can place the petals in a saucepan with the 4 cups of water and bring it to a boil.
  2. Once the petals have sunk to the bottom, it’s time to strain the concentrate to remove the spent flowers.
  3. Add the 4 cups of cold water to the vibrant mixture and stir thoroughly.
  4. Sweeten the tea to your desired taste with sugar or honey. Remember, you can always adjust the sweetness to suit your preferences.
  5. Serve the Agua de Jamaica over ice, garnished with a refreshing slice of lime, if desired.
  6. For best results, store the beverage in a glass container, as plastic can alter the taste and cause the rich, reddish-purple hue to stain.

Pro Tips and Variations

  • If you’re feeling adventurous, try adding a cinnamon stick, a pinch of ground cloves, nutmeg, and allspice to the steeping mixture for an extra layer of warmth and spice.
  • For a touch of Mexican flair, substitute white sugar with piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar cones) or sweeten with a combination of both.
  • Adjust the sweetness level to your liking – some prefer a tarter version, while others enjoy a sweeter treat.
  • Experiment with serving temperatures – Agua de Jamaica can be enjoyed chilled, over ice, or even slightly warm on a cool day.

A Taste of Culture and Community

About the Mexican Drink Agua de Jamaica RecipeAgua de Jamaica is more than just a refreshing beverage; it’s a testament to the rich cultural exchange that has shaped culinary traditions around the world. Every sip is a celebration of Mexico’s vibrant heritage and a reminder of the power of food to bring people together.

Whether you’re enjoying a glass at a lively family gathering or sipping it on a hot summer day, Agua de Jamaica is sure to quench your thirst and captivate your senses. So, why not embark on a flavorful journey and experience the magic of this beloved Mexican drink for yourself?

Frequently Asked Questions

About the Mexican Drink Agua de Jamaica RecipeWhat is Agua de Jamaica made of?

Agua de Jamaica is a refreshing beverage made from the dried petals of the hibiscus flower, also known as sorrel or roselle. The petals are steeped in water, creating a vibrant, tart tea that is then sweetened with sugar or honey.

Why is it called Agua de Jamaica?

Despite its name, Agua de Jamaica did not originate in Jamaica. The name is a nod to the hibiscus plant’s introduction to Mexico from the Caribbean island, where it is known as “sorrel.” The term “Agua de Jamaica” translates to “Jamaica Water” or “Water of Jamaica.”

Is Agua de Jamaica alcoholic?

No, Agua de Jamaica is a non-alcoholic beverage. It is a herbal tea made from hibiscus petals and sweetened with sugar or honey, making it a refreshing and family-friendly drink.

What are the health benefits of Agua de Jamaica?

Hibiscus tea, the base of Agua de Jamaica, is rich in antioxidants and has been associated with various health benefits. It may help lower blood pressure, improve digestion, and provide anti-inflammatory properties. However, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional for specific medical advice.

Can I make Agua de Jamaica in advance?

Yes, you can prepare Agua de Jamaica in advance and store it in the refrigerator for several days. It’s best to store it in a glass container, as plastic can affect the taste and color of the beverage.

How do I adjust the sweetness of Agua de Jamaica?

The sweetness of Agua de Jamaica can be easily adjusted to your personal preference. Start with the recommended amount of sugar or honey in the recipe, and then add more or less to suit your taste buds. Remember, you can always add sweetness, but it’s harder to remove it once added.

Can I use fresh hibiscus flowers instead of dried ones?

While dried hibiscus petals are traditionally used for Agua de Jamaica, you can also use fresh hibiscus flowers. However, you may need to adjust the steeping time and the amount of water used, as fresh petals tend to release more flavor and color.

Is Agua de Jamaica suitable for vegans and vegetarians?

Yes, Agua de Jamaica is typically suitable for vegans and vegetarians, as it is made from plant-based ingredients – hibiscus petals, water, and sweeteners like sugar or honey.

Can I add other ingredients to Agua de Jamaica?

Absolutely! Agua de Jamaica is a versatile beverage that lends itself well to experimentation. You can add ingredients like cinnamon, cloves, ginger, or even fresh fruits like pineapple or strawberries to create your own unique flavor combinations.

Where can I find hibiscus petals to make Agua de Jamaica?

Dried hibiscus petals can often be found in the Hispanic or international food aisles of many supermarkets, as well as in specialty grocery stores or online. Look for packages labeled “flor de Jamaica” or “hibiscus flowers.”

For recommendations on some of the best times to visit Jamaica, you can check out our guide here.

If you’re traveling to Jamaica alone, ensure you take all the necessary measures to keep safe. Read about how you can stay safe while visiting Jamaica. If you decide to visit any resort, be sure to tag us in your photos and videos @resortcaribbean, and follow our socials: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube.


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