For many Caribbean folks, Christmas time isn’t complete without Sorrel Tea. This hibiscus flower tea gets its all-natural, vibrant red hue from the sorrel plant. It’s a feel-good, spiced tea that’s brewed with the warming goodness of cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and cardamom. You’ll also love the citrus notes and ginger-rich zing that steeps with this sweet/tart, refreshing drink! One glass just isn’t enough!

iced sorrel tea in glass with lime wedge garnish

Some recipes just take me straight into my feels- like my Gram’s signature cream of wheat (hella cinnamon, extra sweetened condensed milk, and heaps of vanilla essence). Or Mom’s simple baked chicken, seasoned to perfection and slow roasted, mmm. Sorrel tea is most definitely up there as well. I like to say that this drink to Caribbean folk is what sweet tea is to Southerners, ha!

Spiced Sorrel Tea (Hibiscus Tea) 🌺

This recipe is a sweet/tart, refreshing beverage made from hibiscus petals– which is better known as “sorrel” to Caribbean people. >> Note: not to be confused with the perennial, leafy green herb, sorrel. It’s a rich, flavorful, and festive tea that’s been well-steeped and infused with aromatics and spices. Sorrel is a traditional Jamaican drink often served during Christmas time, throughout the holiday season, or just enjoyed all-year round.

As with many drinks, sorrel tea can be taken down different paths to suit your desired mood. Serve sorrel as an iced beverage or hot as an herbal tea…and as a boozy beverage with alcohol (rum or wine is the go-to in Jamaican culture).

More recipes: oxtail stew, succulent braised short ribs, my favorite curry chicken, this jalapeño cheddar cornbread (yum!), gravy-laden smothered turkey wings, and my easy one-pot stovetop mac and cheese– delicious ♡

three glasses of iced sorrel tea with small bowl of Demerara sugar on the side

Let’s Talk About Hibiscus (all over the world)

Depending on the specific culture or where you are around the globe, you may find a variety of beverages that share some distinct traits: a striking, crimson red/magenta hue, and an equally vibrant tart and sweet taste. This beautiful hibiscus drink is known by different names in various parts of the world.

In West Africa (notably Senegal), hibiscus leaves create a tea called Bissap. While in Latin America, hibiscus tea is called Agua de Jamaica. Let’s make way over to Nigeria where it’s called Zobo, and in Ghana, it’s Sobolo. Lastly, in the Caribbean (most notably Jamaica), hibiscus is known as Sorrel. This is what I grew up knowing it as, and will be referred to as such here, let’s go! 🙌🏾

ingredients for sorrel tea laid out on light pink surface

Ingredients Needed For This Recipe

(Note: the full ingredients list, including measurements, is provided in the recipe card directly below.)

  • Dried sorrel: I almost exclusively use dried sorrel whenever I’m making my sorrel tea. While you can use fresh sorrel, I find dried sorrel easier to access. Dried sorrel is typically found in your local Caribbean or Latin American markets (known as flor de Jamaica).
  • Fresh ginger: I recommend getting ginger from your local Caribbean market for the most fresh, pungent ginger root flavor/taste. I don’t find it necessary to peel/grate the ginger beforehand as we’ll be straining the tea in the end. However, I do recommend pounding the ginger open (use a mallet) so that all the ginger-rich flavor infuses into the sorrel tea while steeping.
  • Cozy, aromatic spices: Whole cloves, Cinnamon sticks, Whole allspice berries, and Cardamom pods add a nicely spiced, aromatic touch that is chef’s kiss.
  • Demerara sugar: This is another ingredient commonly found in Caribbean markets. It’s a type of cane sugar that is minimally processed/considered healthier due to it being less refined and has a coarse grain. If you can’t access this ingredient, use any brown sugar in equal amounts. Otherwise, honey or agave nectar can be used to sweeten to taste.
  • Citrus zest/peels: Orange, lime, and lemon (plus the juice!) …yum.
  • Water: Gotta have water to make tea and extract all the flavors.

How To Make Caribbean Sorrel Tea

(Note: please see the recipe card directly below for the complete written instructions.)

  1. In a large stockpot, combine the dried sorrel, chopped ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, cardamom, and sugar. Cover with 2 quarts water and stir all ingredients well to combine.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, remove from heat. Then add in the citrus zest/peels along with the lemon juice, stir well to combine. 
  3. Cover the pot tightly with a lid and let stand at room temperature to steep for 1 to 2 days (for deep, maximum flavor!). If you’d like to enjoy sooner, let tea steep for a minimum of 2 hours.
  4. Carefully strain the tea over a fine-meshed sieve and discard the tea solids. Give the tea a taste test and sweeten more to desired preference, if needed.
  5. Pour the sorrel tea into a vessel(s) that can be fitted with an airtight lid. Close bottles and transfer into the refrigerator to chill thoroughly.
  6. Serve sorrel tea as-is or over ice for a refreshing beverage and garnish with sliced lime and/or mint leaves, if desired. Enjoy!
sorrel tea in two large glass carafes on marble tray

What Does Sorrel Taste Like?

Sorrel- or the roselle (hibiscus) plant, has a tangy tart, sweet, and earthy floral taste that’s reminiscent of cranberry or pomegranate flavor. Its deep, vibrant red calyces (sepals) give this sorrel tea an all-natural, gorgeous color.

It is the aromatic spices, citrusy notes, ginger, and brown sugar that give this sorrel drink a well-rounded taste. Everything balances and melds together in harmony leaving a satisfying, refreshing punch that is a real delight.

⇢ This sorrel tea is divine, y’all. Big-time tangy tartness meets fragrant spices + citrus pops, a zippy gingery punch, and ample sweetness…SWOON 🤤

sorrel tea being poured over glass full of ice

Let It Steep, Let It Steep, Let It Steep

The magic of sorrel tea lies within the steeping process, peeps. I’ve written this recipe to include between 1-2 days of steeping. You see, the longer this tea steeps, the more flavorful and robust your batch will be. If you’re in a rush, I recommend steeping for a minimum of 2 hours. But listen, trust me when I advise you to steep your sorrel for longer…it’s important for the best sorrel ☝🏾

Can I Use Fresh Sorrel?

Yes! Although, if you opt to use fresh sorrel (roselle buds), you will need a lot more than the recipe is written for dried sorrel. Fresh sorrel is not as pungent and has a lighter color than dried. And it’s usually homegrown or found at farmers markets, be sure to always rinse fresh sorrel before using!

Boozy Sorrel Drink (Jamaican Rum Punch)

Turn this sorrel tea into an alcohol version by pairing it with some booze! In Jamaican culture, sorrel is flavored and enjoyed with Wray & Nephew White Ovenproof Rum or Appleton Jamaican Rum. I love using either one when deciding to make rum punch (great for entertaining!). Use them for authentic Jamaican rum punch or a rum of choice to your desired preference level, ayyyeee.

glasses of sorrel tea with lime wedge

Tips + Tricks, Notes, & FAQs About This Recipe

You may have additional questions about this sorrel tea recipe. Like other recipes, I always advise sticking to the recipe as it is written in the recipe card directly below. However, here’s some extra info you might find helpful:

  • Working with steeped sorrel: Because of its high pigmentation, it’s always best practice to be careful when working with steeped sorrel as it can easily stain anything it falls on (clothes, porous surfaces, kitchen towels, etc.).
  • Types of sweeteners: I love demerara sugar here, other recipe alternatives include agave, coconut sugar, honey, and even maple syrup.
  • Add fruit: For more tropical flair, add sliced/chopped fruit like oranges and pineapples. These can be tossed into the drink after straining.
  • Storing sorrel: This recipe makes 2 quarts of sorrel tea. I like to use glass jars or bottles (mason jars, carafes, swing top bottles, or any other container/pitcher you have that can be fitted with an airtight lid).
  • Is sorrel healthy? Sorrel has a ton of health benefits! It is known to be rich in antioxidants, helps to fight inflammation, lowers blood pressure/cholesterol, and helps to fight bacteria- just to name a few benefits.

Storing & Serving Sorrel Tea

My favorite way to serve this sorrel drink is chilled over a glass full of ice. Knocking back a refreshing beverage like this hits the spot every time. Garnish glasses with sliced lime and/or mint leaves for a lil’ razzle dazzle touch and enjoy! Serve this tea hot as an herbal tea if that’s more your speed, too.

Storing: Preserve sorrel tea, always covered with an airtight lid, in the fridge and it will keep for 1 week. Shake well before serving!

three glasses of hibiscus tea on gold tray

Such a refreshing, cultural delight is this Caribbean Sorrel Tea, y’all. Add this bomb drink into your beverage rotation! Be sure to tag @butterbeready in your BBR recipe creations, I sure love to see it when you do. Until next time! 🤟🏾

Love dat Caribbean flair? Don’t miss:

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iced sorrel tea in glass with lime wedge garnish

Caribbean Spiced Sorrel Tea (Hibiscus Tea)

  • Author: Quin Liburd
  • Prep Time: 15m
  • steep time: 1-2 days
  • Cook Time: 10m
  • Total Time: 1-2 days 25m
  • Yield: 2 quarts 1x
  • Category: Beverages, Drinks
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Caribbean

Description

For many Caribbean folks, Christmas time isn’t complete without Sorrel Tea. This hibiscus flower tea gets its all-natural, vibrant red hue from the sorrel plant. It’s a feel-good, spiced tea that’s brewed with the warming goodness of cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and cardamom. You’ll also love the citrus notes and ginger-rich zing that steeps with this sweet/tart, refreshing drink! One glass just isn’t enough!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 cups dried sorrel (hibiscus) flowers
  • 1/3 cup fresh chopped ginger, pieces pounded open with a mallet
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon allspice berries
  • 2 cardamom pods, lightly crushed- optional
  • 1 1/2 cups demerara sugar, plus more to taste (see notes)
  • grated zest or peels from 1 medium orange
  • grated zest or peels from 1 small lime
  • grated zest or peels & juice from 1 medium lemon
  • 2 quarts water

For serving & garnishing sorrel tea- optional:

  • sliced lime, mint leaves

Instructions

  1. Combine: In a large stockpot, combine the dried sorrel, chopped ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, cardamom (if using), and sugar. Cover solids with 2 quarts water and stir all ingredients well to combine.
  2. Boil: Bring to a boil over medium heat. As soon as the tea boils, remove from the heat. Then add in the citrus zest/peels along with the lemon juice, stir well to combine. 
  3. Steep: Cover the pot tightly with a lid and let stand at room temperature to steep for 1 to 2 days (for deep, maximum flavor!). If you’d like to enjoy sooner, let tea steep for a minimum of 2 hours.
  4. Strain: Carefully strain the tea over a fine-meshed sieve and discard the tea solids. Give the tea a taste test and sweeten more to desired preference, if needed.
  5. Bottling sorrel tea: This recipe makes 2 quarts. I like to use glass bottles (mason jars, carafes, swing top bottles, or any other container/pitcher you have that can be fitted with an airtight lid). Carefully pour the sorrel tea into the vessel(s), leaving an inch of headspace for shaking. Close bottles and transfer into the refrigerator to chill thoroughly.
  6. Serve: Shake well and serve sorrel tea as-is or over ice for a refreshing beverage and garnish with sliced lime and/or mint leaves, if desired. Enjoy! Note: you can also drink this tea hot as an herbal tea.
  7. Store: Preserve sorrel tea, always covered with an airtight lid, in the fridge and it will keep for 1 week. Enjoy drink chilled or hot.

Notes

  1. To sweeten sorrel tea: I recommend Demerara sugar, brown sugar, honey, or agave nectar- sweetened to desired taste.
  2. Add alcohol: Feel free to flavor your sorrel with rum- like Wray & Nephew White Ovenproof Rum or Appleton Rum (for authentic Jamaican rum punch) or your rum of choice- to preference.
  3. Please read the blog post in its entirety for more tips + tricks.

Keywords: sorrel, sorrel tea, hibiscus, hibiscus tea, flor de Jamaica, Bissap, jamaican sorrel, sorrel drink, hibiscus drink, jamaican rum punch

black hand grabbing glass of sorrel tea with lime garnish