Zobo is a very common drink in Nigeria, and I remember that it used to be drunk by the Hausa’s in the northern part of the country; but it gradually became well known all over the country. When I was at University, it was the choice drink served at student parties; and the popularity of this drink has not waned since then.
Zobo drink is not only popular in Nigeria, but throughout the world. It is drunk for its refreshing taste and health benefits. This delicious spiced zobo drink with warming spices is perfect for the cooler weather, like we have now in the UK. It is easy to prepare, and free from caffeine which makes it suitable for anytime of the day.
Where Do You Get Zobo From?
Zobo is prepared by steeping the calyces of Hibiscus sabdariffa flower. The calyces enclose; and provide protection and support for the flower petals. Zobo drink is not prepared from the leaves or flowers of the hibiscus plant, as many people think. The infusion is sour and slightly sweet with floral notes.
This tart hibiscus drink is very versatile and can be used to make a cold refreshing drink or a hot drink. It is usually prepared with the addition of fruits or spices and sometimes sweetener. I like to add some honey to mine to reduce the tartness. The hint of cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom in this fragrant spiced zobo drink takes the taste up to another level. It is very flavourful!
What is Zobo Called in English?
Zobo is generally called hibiscus in English. However, depending on the part of the world you are in, it could be called roselle, sorrel, red sorrel, Jamaican sorrel, sour tea etc. It is the base for a lot of the red herbal teas in the beverages market because of the deep red colour, which is highly valued.
Nutritional & Health Benefits of Zobo
Zobo has amazing health benefits. In South Asia, Africa and South America, all of the parts of the hibiscus above the soil are used in traditional medicine for their laxative and cleansing properties. It is used as diuretic to detoxify the body, particularly after the consumption of a large amount of alcohol. The hibiscus drink has also been used for its antibacterial properties; and in the treatment if high blood pressure.
Zobo drink is rich in vitamin C and B vitamins. It is also a good source of minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. It is full of anthocyanins which help to boost the immune system
Zobo, like every good thing must be consumed in moderation. There are risks associated with this hibiscus drink because of its potential interactions with other medications. Talk to your doctor if you are on medications and have concerns about the drink.
How to Prepare Spiced Zobo
The zobo calyces have nooks which can hold dust or dirt, it is important to rinse very well with cold water before use. Its red colour will leach into the washing liquid. This is not a problem as it doesn’t affect the infusion you get at the end.
Be aware that this spiced zobo recipe makes a pretty thick and strongly flavoured liquid. If you prefer it with less intensity, you can add more water. What I do sometimes is use it as a concentrate by adding around four times more water to get a similar (but much flavourful) taste to a lot of store-bought red fruit infusions. If you don’t want to drink it hot, then chill after preparation for an aromatic refreshing drink. It will last for a few days in the fridge.
Lamugine for Ghana is another warming drink, which is perfect for the cold weather. You must give it a try.
Spiced Zobo (Hibiscus) Drink
- 1 cup Zobo (hibiscus calyces)
- 6 cups Water
- 1 tablespoon Cardamom
- 1 stick Cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon Grated nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon Cloves
- 1 teaspoon Peppercorns
- Honey to taste
- Wash the zobo (hibiscus calyces) properly.
- Add all the ingredients into a saucepan under medium heat. Cover the pan.
- Allow to come to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat.
- Remove from heat after 5 mins.
- Leave for 10 mins to allow the calyces and the spices to infuse properly, then strain.
- Add honey to taste and drink straight or dilute to your taste.