What is hibiscus syrup good for?

Quick Answers

Hibiscus syrup is good for:

– Adding flavor and color to drinks and desserts
– Potential health benefits like lowering blood pressure and cholesterol
– Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
– Being a naturally caffeine-free alternative to coffee and tea
– Adding a tart, cranberry-like taste to recipes

What Exactly is Hibiscus Syrup?

Hibiscus syrup is a concentrated, sweetened liquid made from hibiscus flowers. The flowers are steeped in hot water to make a tea, then sugar or another sweetener is added to make a syrup.

It has a deep pink to purple color and tart, cranberry-like flavor. Hibiscus syrup is popular in Mexico and Central America, where it’s known as agua de jamaica. It’s also gaining popularity around the world as more people discover its uses and potential health benefits.

Main Uses for Hibiscus Syrup

Hibiscus syrup has two main uses: as a drink ingredient and as a dessert ingredient.

Drinks: Hibiscus syrup is commonly added to water or soda to make agua fresca, a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage. It’s also used to make cocktail mixes, lemonades, teas, and other drinks. The syrup adds a pop of color and flavor. A little goes a long way in terms of sweetness and hue.

Desserts: The syrup can be swirled into yogurt, drizzled over cakes and pastries, added to ice cream and sorbet, and incorporated into other desserts. It’s excellent in fruit salads, giving the fruit a pretty pink color. Hibiscus syrup is a nice way to sweeten and enhance all kinds of desserts.

Potential Health Benefits

Hibiscus flowers contain compounds called anthocyanins that give them their vibrant color. Anthocyanins are antioxidants that may provide health benefits. Some research suggests hibiscus may:

– Lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels
– Have diuretic and laxative properties
– Provide anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antibacterial effects
– Act as an anticancer agent against some cell lines

However, most of the research has been limited to animal and test tube studies. More extensive human studies are needed to confirm hibiscus’s health effects. But the initial findings are promising.

Some key potential benefits:

May Lower Blood Pressure

Hypertension is a major health issue. Over time, high blood pressure can damage blood vessels and organs.

Animal studies suggest hibiscusmay lower blood pressure. A few human studies indicate similar effects.

In one study, 65 people with high blood pressure took hibiscus tea or a placebo. After six weeks, those who drank hibiscus tea had an average drop of 7.2 mmHg in their systolic blood pressure (the top number). They also had a 1.7 mmHg drop in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number). The placebo group didn’t have significant changes.

Researchers think anthocyanins in hibiscus widen blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more easily and reducing pressure.

May Lower Cholesterol

Having elevated LDL “bad” cholesterol and low HDL “good” cholesterol raises the risk of heart disease. Research indicates hibiscus may improve cholesterol levels.

In a 4-week study, people who took hibiscus tea daily had increased “good” HDL cholesterol and decreased total and “bad” LDL cholesterol compared to those who drank a placebo tea. Hibiscus lowered cholesterol more in people with higher starting levels.

Because high cholesterol doesn’t usually cause symptoms until complications arise, it’s important to get checked regularly and take steps to improve your levels through diet, exercise, and medication if necessary. Drinking hibiscus tea may aid in lowering cholesterol naturally.

May Act as a Diuretic

Hibiscus is thought to have a mild diuretic effect, meaning it may increase urine production and flow. By promoting the elimination of more fluid from the body, hibiscus tea may help lower blood pressure.

A study in Nigeria found people who drank hibiscus tea regularly had increased urination. Another study had participants drink hibiscus or black tea for 2 weeks. The hibiscus tea group had increased urinary output compared to the black tea group.

Having a diuretic effect may also help prevent kidney stones. More research is needed, but hibiscus tea could be useful for maintaining normal fluid balance and electrolyte levels.

May Aid Weight Loss

A few animal studies suggest hibiscus may promote weight loss and fat reduction.

One study found mice that were given hibiscus extract for 60 days gained less weight and body fat than mice that didn’t get the extract. Researchers think the antioxidant and enzyme inhibition properties in hibiscus helped reduce fat absorption and storage.

Another study had obese mice take hibiscus extract for 12 weeks. The hibiscus group had significantly lower body weight, liver fat, and cholesterol levels than the control group.

While these results are promising, keep in mind that findings in mice don’t always translate to humans. More research is needed to determine if hibiscus definitively aids weight loss in people. But it seems to be a low-risk addition to a weight management plan.

How is Hibiscus Syrup Made?

Hibiscus syrup is easy to make at home, so you can control the ingredients. It’s also readily available to purchase pre-made. But it tends to taste freshest when homemade.

Here is the basic process:

1. Boil water in a pot and remove from heat. Add dried hibiscus flowers or tea bags. Let steep 5-10 minutes until the water turns a bright pink/red. Strain the flowers.

2. Measure the strained tea and pour it back into the pot. Add an equal amount of sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, until the sugar dissolves.

3. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Pour the syrup into a glass jar or bottle.
4. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Shake or stir before use.

You can adjust the amount of sugar to taste. Less sugar will result in a more tart, concentrated syrup. A cup of dried flowers per 2 cups of water is a good ratio to start with. Get creative and add your own twists like honey, spices, citrus zest, etc.

Here is a table summarizing the process:

Hibiscus Syrup Recipe
Ingredients: 1 cup dried hibiscus flowers 2 cups water 2 cups sugar
Steps: 1. Steep flowers in boiling water 5-10 mins. 2. Strain and pour back into pot. 3. Add sugar and simmer 5 mins. 4. Cool, bottle, & refrigerate.

It’s that easy to make your own healthy and flavorful hibiscus syrup!

Where Can I Buy Hibiscus Syrup?

While homemade hibiscus syrup is best, you can purchase pre-made syrup at many grocery stores and online retailers. Look for it in the syrup or international foods aisle.

Here are some places to find hibiscus syrup for sale:

– Natural food stores like Whole Foods or Sprouts
– Mexican/Latin grocery stores and markets
– Online retailers like Amazon.com
– Specialty spice shops or tea stores

Brands to look for include:

– Rio Grande
– Fontana
– Java Juice
– Celia’s

Be sure to check the ingredients list and select a syrup without artificial additives or high fructose corn syrup. Hibiscus syrup should contain real hibiscus extract and a minimal number of natural ingredients like cane sugar and water.

Also, note the variety of hibiscus used. Hibiscus sabdariffa is considered the best species for medicinal benefits and flavor.

How to Use Hibiscus Syrup

Hibiscus syrup is wonderfully versatile in drinks and desserts. Here are some easy ways to use it:


– Add a splash to water, seltzer, or citrus water for flavor.
– Mix with soda, ginger ale, or lemon-lime soda for a flavored soda.
– Blend into lemonade, tea, or sangria.
– Use in cocktails like margaritas and mojitos.
– Add to champagne or prosecco for a fun twist.


– Drizzle over cakes and cupcakes.
– Use in pie fillings like berry and stone fruit pies.
– Swirl into ice cream, yogurt, pudding, and chia pudding.
– Use in sorbet recipes.
– Mix into fruit salads.
– Top waffles, crepes, and pancakes.
– Add to oatmeal and chia seed pudding.


– Brush on salmon, chicken, and pork while grilling or baking.
– Whisk into glazes and vinaigrettes.
– Add to curries and stir fries.
– Use to make hibiscus ginger ale chicken wings or meatballs.
– Add to bloody mary cocktails.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless for using this versatile syrup! Start with small amounts to gauge the sweetness and tartness you prefer.

Does Hibiscus Syrup Go Bad?

Like most syrups, hibiscus syrup has a relatively short shelf life. It will stay good for 1-2 weeks when refrigerated. Signs it has gone bad include:

– Mold growing
– Change in consistency and color
– Fermented smell
– Fizzy bubbles

To maximize freshness, store hibiscus syrup in a tightly sealed glass jar or bottle in the refrigerator. Keep the syrup submerged in the liquid to minimize air exposure.

Do not leave it sitting out at room temperature or expose to sunlight, as this will cause it to spoil faster. Discard if you see any signs of spoilage.

To extend the shelf life, you can freeze surplus hibiscus syrup in ice cube trays or muffin tins for longer storage. It will keep for 3-4 months in the freezer. Thaw in the refrigerator before using in beverages and recipes.

Making small batches you can use up within 2 weeks is ideal. You’ll get to enjoy the syrup when it’s freshest.


Hibiscus syrup is a versatile ingredient that brings a burst of flavor, nutrition, and color to drinks and dishes. With potential health benefits like lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, it’s a smart addition to a healthy lifestyle.

Though more research is needed, findings to-date suggest hibiscus has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that may promote wellness.

Easy to make at home or purchase pre-made, hibiscus syrup livens up everything from cocktails to yogurt parfaits. Keep its uses and short shelf life in mind, and enjoy sipping on this flowery syrup as part of a balanced diet.

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