Rich and refreshing, tart and tantalising, Egyptian Red (also referred to as hibiscus tea, karkadé, or rosella/roselle tea) has long been revered for its health benefits and delicious qualities. Made from the crushed red calyces of the rosella plant (Hibiscus Sabdariffa), the resulting drink is an intensely cerise infusion with a tangy flavour reminiscent of raspberry, rhubarb, plum, or cranberries.
There is a common misconception that Egyptian Red is produced from flower buds or petals when, as aforementioned, it is in fact the calyx that creates this tisane. The calyx is the underpart of the flower that basically keeps the petals together. In its full, bud-like form, the hibiscus calyx is used as an aesthetic addition to champagnes and sparkling wines.
Most of the health properties in Egyptian Red can be attributed to its organic acids and quercetin — a flavonoid compound that is naturally occurring in brightly coloured plant-based foods. This compound is what gives Egyptian Red its abundance of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. As a result, drinking this rosella infusion has been known to help with strengthening the immune system, decreasing blood pressure, and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Consequently, this helps with preventing heart disease and protecting blood vessels from damage. The anti-inflammatory benefits of quercetin also extend to assisting digestive health, as well as relieving the symptoms of arthritis and joint pain. As an antibacterial, Egyptian Red also helps with reducing the symptoms of cold and flu. Furthermore, its diuretic effect assists in cooling the body making it a natural treatment for the discomfort of fever. This plethora of health benefits combined with the flavour of Egyptian Red make it an ideal tisane to be enjoyed all year round, especially at the heights of summer and winter.
The tart and fruity palate of Egyptian Red lends itself to many complementary flavours. Sweeteners like honey, sugar, or agave syrup soften the sour edge while spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger can add another flavour dynamic. There are many ways this drink can be enjoyed with many hot and cold variations stemming from all over the world from the chilled glasses of Mexico to the steaming cups of Italy. Egyptian Red is great tisane to experiment with, or for some inspiration try this simple recipe…