Mexican Jamaica

Agua de Jamaica


Agua de Jamaica is a refreshing drink made from dried hibiscus flowers, water, and sugar. I like to add orange zest and spices to change it up a bit.
Agua de Jamaica

Before moving to Los Angeles I was a total Mexican food amateur. Sure I grew up in a Latin household, but the cuisines of Peru and Colombia couldn’t be more different than what one would eat in Mexico.

My idea of Mexican food was limited to “authentic” burritos and tacos. I assumed it was all the same because for the most part Peruvian food isn’t that varied throughout the country. Same goes for Colombian food. Those two countries, for the most part, eat mainly the same foods in all regions. When I moved to LA, I realized how varied Mexican food actually is.

I finally understood the differences between Oaxacan moles, the fish tacos from Baja and the cemitas from Puebla. But one item I see in all Mexican restaurants regardless of region or specialty is agua de jamaica (pronounced: xa’majka – the “j” is silent).

It’s usually chilling in one of those great big tubs next to the other agua frescos like canteloupe, watermelon and horchata. I always choose the jamaica. Always.

Hibiscus Flower

What is hibiscus flower tea?

It’s exactly what it sounds like: tea made from hibiscus! There is a certain variety of hibiscus flowers that are grown and left to mature to a certain point. Once they start to shrivel up they’re picked and dried and used to make tea, among other things.

What’s the translation of Agua de Jamaica?

The literal translation is water of hibiscus, but agua in Mexico is used as a general term to label the actual translation of water along with a lot of the drink options you can get at restaurants.

How to make Agua de Jamaica:

  1. Make a simple syrup. Mix together the sugar and vanilla bean caviar in a saucepan then add water and bring to a boil. I like the flavor of the vanilla, however if you don’t have it it’s fine!
  2. Steep the hibiscus. Once the water has come up to a boil, remove the pan from the heat and add the dried hibiscus along with the aromatics to steep.
  3. Cool the syrup. After the flowers have steeped, remove them and let the mixture cool completely.
  4. Dilute. Add enough water to your taste preference and serve over ice.

Agua de Jamaica

Hibiscus Flower Tea (Agua de Jamaica)

0 from 0 votes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Serving Size: 5 cups
Calories: 17kcal
Agua de Jamaica is a refreshing drink made from dried hibiscus flowers, water, and sugar. I like to add orange zest and spices to change it up a bit.


  • 1/2 cup cane or white sugar
  • 1/4 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 3 1/2 cups filtered water
  • 1/2 cup dried hibiscus flowers, plus a few more for garnish
  • 1/2 orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick


  • In a small bowl and using your hands, mix together the vanilla bean caviar and sugar, making sure the vanilla is evenly distributed. Add the vanilla bean sugar and water to a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat.
  • Stir in the hibiscus flowers, juice from 1/2 of an orange and cinnamons stick. Cover the pan and allow the tea to steep for 15-20 minutes and until the mixture is a deep purple(ish)/red(ish) color.
  • Run the tea through a strainer, discarding the tea leaf mixture and transfer the concentrate to the refrigerator to cool. When ready to serve, mix in 1 1/2 cups water to dilute. (Note: I personally liked it slightly diluted; give it a taste and if you don't, then simply don't add the water.) Pour over ice, garnish with a few hibiscus flowers, orange slices of lime slices.
Keywordagua de jamaica
Calories: 17kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 10mg | Potassium: 24mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 100IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 2mg
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  • Reply db April 11, 2013 at 10:16 am

    adrianna— how far in advance do you think this could be made? i would love to serve this at my wedding this fall, but i think i may need to make it a day or two early. what do you think??

    • Reply Adrianna April 11, 2013 at 1:13 pm

      Ooooo…this would be a pretty wedding drink. I’d say you’ll be safe with making it 1-2 days in advance. I’m afraid if you make it any earlier it might start to ferment the way iced tea tends to do. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply ashley - baker by nature April 10, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    Love me some flower-licious tea!

  • Reply karen April 10, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    I’m mexican and my mom would make this growing up as a weight loss drink. I always HATED it! But I haven’t had it since. And I don’t think she flavored it or sweetened it. Maybe I should give it another try ๐Ÿ™‚

    Also those glasses are ADORABLEEEEEEEE!!

  • Reply Christy April 10, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Agua de Jamaica is my FAVORITE!!! I order it whenever it is available, but Iโ€™ve never thought of making my own.
    Iโ€™m so hopped up on Claritin-D thanks to all of the pollen weโ€™re Hoovering up here in Atlanta right now. So, it surprises me that I want ANYTHING to do with a flower right now. But, I do. I REALLY DO.
    Thank you for this post!

    • Reply Adrianna April 10, 2013 at 7:50 pm

      In LA we have these terrible things called the “Santa Ana Winds” and they deliver so much dust/pollen. My eyes have been swollen for the past 3 days so I hear you! Luckily these little flowers will cause no sneezing/watery eyes.

  • Reply tina April 10, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    never had this but would love. soooo lush and so grown up. i likey ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Bernadette @ Now Stir It Up April 10, 2013 at 11:15 am

    This sounds so refreshing. It would be perfect in the middle of summer. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Dina April 10, 2013 at 4:07 am

    sounds like a refreshing summer drink!

  • Reply Katie @ Blonde Ambition April 9, 2013 at 10:27 am

    Hibiscus always reminds me of one of my favorite Bath and Body Works lotions from when I was a teenager, haha. But as a drink? Totally grown up.

    And I think I would die in that spice store. So many curries and masalas and chiles, oh my!

  • Reply Kait @ ChickadeeSays April 9, 2013 at 8:59 am

    This looks incredible. I love hibiscus and this sounds so fresh and refreshing- perfect for spring and summer! I’ve pinned it!

    xx Kait

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