Agua de Jamaica

Hibiscus flower gives this Mexican classic its eye-catching red hue.

Hibiscus Agua Fresca

Matt Taylor-Gross / Food Styling by Lucy Simon

Prep Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
10 mins

This simple agua fresca showcases the full force of hibiscus, a bright red flower that is full of flavor.  Known as sorrel in Jamaica, hibiscus is called Jamaica or flor de Jamaica in Mexico. The little hibiscus flower is known for its signature tangy and herbaceous flavor, and of course, the rich red color it imparts on drinks and baked goods (like these sorrel thumbprint cookies) alike. 

This two-ingredient recipe starring hibiscus yields a surprisingly flavorful agua fresca that couldn’t be easier to make. Developed by Oscar Hernandez, the culinary director and master taquero behind Tacombi, a popular New York City-based restaurant group known for their authentic tacos, tostadas, and enticing beverage program, this is a drink we'll be making all summer long. "Agua de Jamaica is super refreshing, and my favorite aguas fresca that we make fresh daily at Tacombi," Hernandez explains. "At Tacombi, we also mix it with mezcal for one of our delicious cocktails, the Spiked Hibiscus, with agua de Jamaica, mezcal and chile morita.” 

Tacombi’s Agua de Jamaica (also known as a hibiscus agua fresca) is made by simply steeping dried hibiscus flowers with hot water before straining and sweetening with agave. 

So as not to over-extract or burn the hibiscus while you're making this drink, bring a pot of water to a boil, turn off the heat, and then add the dried hibiscus leaves to steep in the water as it cools. Boiling the hibiscus leaves with the water helps protect some of the healthful properties of hibiscus. “Agua de Jamaica is a very popular drink in  Mexico and you can find it in every taqueria. It is recognized for multiple benefits, the flor de Jamaica with which the Agua de Jamaica is prepared concentrates a large amount of vitamins and minerals, which have various antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antihypertensive properties," says Hernandez. — Lucy Simon



  • 6 cups water

  • 1/2 cup dried Hibiscus

  • 1/4 cup agave nectar


  1. In a small saucepan, bring 6 cups of water to boil then turn off heat. Add the dried hibiscus flowers. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes.

  2. Strain the mixture into a pitcher. Add agave nectar and stir until combined.

  3. Refrigerate to serve very cold over ice.

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