In Cote D’Ivoire, we make a hibiscus drink called Bissap [Bee-Sap]. It is a wonderfully refreshing drink.
Hibiscus’ beneficial health properties have been recognized and used in a multitude of applications. It is essentially one of those multi-purpose plants, like aloe and lemongrass. It’s widely believed that regular consumption can not only help to maintain a normal body temperature, especially in warmer climates, but it can also support heart and upper respiratory health.
So for Valentine’s Day, what better drink for your heart than Ivorian Bissap?
2 ½ cups hibiscus flowers (dried)
6 cups of water
Agave or sugar (sweetened to taste)
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
Mint leaves to taste
1/4 cup lemon juice
The following ingredients are optional:
1/2 cup pineapple or orange juice
1 teaspoon mashed or pureed ginger root
Working with Hibiscus is messy work!
The deep red color will stain just about everything – your clothes, wooden spoons (especially) and white counter tops. So keeping that in mind, be careful and wear something that you don’t mind staining!
First, rinse the flowers in water. Bring the 6 cups of water to a boil.
Once boiling, remove the water from the heat and add the dried hibiscus flowers, ginger puree and mint leaves. Place a lid over the pot and let it steep for about 15 minutes. Then pour the tea through your strainer to separate the flowers, which can be discarded.
Add the lemon juice, vanilla extract, and pineapple or orange juice. While stirring the mixture, add the Agave or sweetener.
Let it cool and transfer the tea to a pitcher. You can add a cup or 2 more of water if the drink is too tangy, along with any of the other ingredients.
Store your Bissap in the refrigerator and you’ll have a refreshing, healthy cold drink. You can add pineapple chunks as a garnish when serving.
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