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.
What Is Zobo Drink?
Zobo drink, also known as hibiscus drink, is popular around the world for its refreshing taste and health benefits. It is prepared by steeping hibiscus calyces to get an infusion which is sour with slightly sweet floral notes. 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 also known bisap or sobolo in some African countries.
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.
My spiced hibiscus drink recipe with warming spices is perfect for the cooler weather. It is easy to prepare, and free from caffeine which makes it suitable for anytime of the day. The hint of cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom takes the taste up to another level. It is very flavourful!
Nutritional And Health Benefits Of Zobo Drink
Hibiscus 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 of 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
Like every good thing, zobo 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.
Spiced Zobo (Hibiscus) Drink Recipe
Here are the ingredients you need...
How to make it...
Zobo “leaves” (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.
Add the Zobo, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and peppercorns into a saucepan. Pour in the water and place on medium heat. Cover the pan.
Allow the liquid to come to a roll boil, then reduce the heat to low. Leave for further 5 mins, then remove from heat. Leave for 10 mins to allow the calyces and the spices to infuse. Pour in a colander to drain.
Dilute the liquid to your taste. Add honey or your favourite sweetener.
This spiced hibiscus drink recipe makes a 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.
Recipe FAQ And Notes
In my part of Nigeria, zobo ingredient is called “Zobo leaves”, which is a consequence of translating the name directly from the local language. Many people think this “zobo” leaf is hibiscus flower. This is not true, zobo drink is not prepared from the leaves or flowers of the hibiscus plant. The drink’s main ingredient is the calyx of Hibiscus sabdariffa, which is a variety of hibiscus flower. The calyces enclose; and provide protection and support for the flower petals. 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.
Lamugine from Ghana is another warming drink, which is perfect for the cold weather. You must give it a try.
Spiced Zobo (Hibiscus) Drink
- 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.