Hibiscus Tea Benefits
Hibiscus Tea benefits are today some of the best documented in the world of science and Tea. From weight loss to menstrual relief; anti-ageing properties to, of course, lower blood pressure, the possibilities are near endless.
Hibiscus Tea can, under the right circumstances, be the perfect accompaniment to a healthy and active lifestyle. In reality, this beverage may be the answer to numerous ailments prevalent in our society. In some countries, Hibiscus Tea is already prescribed by Doctors because of its remarkable medicinal qualities.
The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company are here to answer some of the most pressing questions, including:
- What is Hibiscus Tea
- Hibiscus Tea Benefits
- What is Hibiscus Tea good for
- Does Hibiscus Tea have calories
- Is Hibiscus Tea safe while breastfeeding
Indeed, these questions, and many more, will be cleared up once and for all in this article.
What is Hibiscus?
There are an estimated three hundred species of the hibiscus plant, a genus of flowering plants in the mallow family, Malvaceae. Found growing around the world, including many countries in Africa, Europe and North America. The hibiscus plant is generally native to temperate, subtropical and tropical regions, although, under the right conditions, it can also thrive in indoor environments, making it exceptionally versatile.
Perhaps most notably, this plant is widely recognised from the stunning hibiscus flowers, ranging in colours from white to pink, red to orange, peach to yellow, and even purple! Depending on the variety of hibiscus plant, the flowers will often range in length from 4 to 18 centimetres.
The variety used for Hibiscus Flower Tea is Hibiscus sabdariffa. It is these flowers that, when infused in boiling water, create a uniquely tart flavour similar to the taste of cranberry or pomegranate. Hibiscus Flower Tea has often been described as bitter, or even slightly sour in flavour, and can also be infused with other herbs and fruits such as lemon, ginger or dried spices.
While we use the flowers for the making of Hibiscus Tea, many culinary dishes from predominantly far-east countries use the leaves. In Burma, these leaves are a vital ingredient in chin baung kyaw, a well-known Burmese curry. In the Philippines, Hibiscus leaves are incorporated into a traditional tinola better known as Polynesian chicken stew. The stem of the plant is likewise usable and is often utilised in the production of natural fabrics such as burlap.
Practising Hindus from India are especially fond of the red hibiscus flower. This is because they represent the Hindu Goddess Kali, and are often used as an offering during worship. Meanwhile, in Hawaiian culture, the hibiscus flower is placed behind the right ear of ‘a maiden’, which indicates that she is looking for a partner! However, if the hibiscus flower is placed behind the left ear, this means she is ‘taken’! Suffice to say; it’s crucial to know the difference!
Hibiscus is the state plant of Hawaii, which is part of the USA. Meanwhile, in the countries of Senegal and Malaysia, it is the national plant.
Hibiscus Tea Around the World
In the UK, including right here at The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company, as well as the USA, Hibiscus Tea is known simply as, well, Hibiscus Tea. But this isn’t always the case in other countries and/or regions around the world, the exceptions being the following:
Australia - “Rosella Tea”.
The Caribbean - “Sorrel Tea”.
Egypt and Sudan - “Karkade Tea”.
Ghana - “Soobolo Tea”.
India - “Gudhal Tea”.
India (Hindi-speaking regions) - “Arhul Ka Phool Tea”.
India (Bengali and Sanskrit speaking regions) - “Java Kusum Tea”.
Iran - “Chai Torsh Tea”.
Iraq - “Chai Kujarat Tea”.
Italy - “Carcade Tea”.
Latin America (excluding Panama) - “Agua de Jamaica Tea” or “Rosa de Jamaica Tea”.
Panama - “Saril Tea”.
The Philippines - “Gumamela Tea”.
One can apply any of these terms to their nourishing cup of Hibiscus Tea; however, it’s important to note one glaring misconception. Though we use the word “Tea” when referring to either Herbal or Fruit Teas, it is not strictly the case.
Hibiscus Tea, like all standalone Herbal Teas, as well as all standalone Fruit Teas, does not contain leaves from the Camellia sinensis (Tea) plant. Because of this, it is not technically a “Tea” in the conventional sense. Nevertheless, the worldwide Tea Industry has long adopted these delightful beverages as one of their own.
History of Hibiscus Tea
Despite there being hundreds of varieties of Hibiscus as of the 21st Century, botanists today believe that the species’ ancestors once numbered just eight, eventually evolving over time to become the striking hybrids now scattered across the globe.
The history of Hibiscus Tea benefits began in Ancient Egypt, according to archaeological evidence. Here, in what today is considered the original home of the plant, the Egyptian Pharaohs consumed Hibiscus Tea to combat the fierce scorn of the desert heat while cruising along the river Nile.
It was likewise used to treat heart and nerve diseases, and even as a diuretic to increase urine production (today, not-so-ancient Egyptians still consume Hibiscus Tea for these very same reasons!). Deeper into Africa, this Tea was used to treat constipation, liver disease and cold symptoms, which has since passed down the generations and is still practised in modern society.
Knowledge of the health benefits of Hibiscus Tea eventually spread to India, China, Mauritius, Hawaii, Fiji and Madagascar. It arrived in Europe by the 18th Century, and in the United States during the 19th Century. Soon after, this seemingly magical brew, as well as the plant itself, took the world by storm, where it continues to increase in popularity to this day.
Why Should you Drink Hibiscus Tea
Hibiscus Tea benefits the mind, body and soul. Its frequent consumption offers a magnificent ‘cocktail’ of health-promoting vitamins, minerals, and other antioxidants, including Vitamins A, B-1, B-2, B-9, and C, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus - to name but a few.
The antioxidant potential of Hibiscus Tea, in particular, cannot be overstated. It helps tremendously in the fight against natural, though harmful, human oxidation. Oxidation is a natural process of the body related to the transference of oxygen around the system, as well as being the chemical reaction responsible for introducing free radicals. These free radicals, which are unpaired (and unsafe!) electrons, can be the cause of a multitude of chronic conditions, though namely cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes.
Hibiscus Flower Tea and its antioxidant strength, meanwhile, can combat and even neutralise free radicals by slowing down the effects of oxidation, thus reducing the risks of developing the aforementioned chronic conditions. Some scientists have even suggested that Hibiscus Tea could reduce the risks of developing cancer, though research is still in its preliminary stage.
All we know for sure is that Hibiscus Tea benefits are unparalleled. But how can they help you, personally, to improve your everyday way of life? Let’s find out!
Hibiscus for High Blood Pressure
Most will know already that Hibiscus Tea blood pressure benefits are what put this brew on the map in the first place. It continues to be this way to this day. Regardless of whether one is using Hibiscus Tea Bags or Hibiscus Flower Tea, its outstanding ability to lower blood pressure has seen a spike in sales in recent years. That hasn’t changed.
It’s estimated that 1 in 3 UK adults suffer from high blood pressure, which can lead to kidney and heart disease, as well as strokes. It’s now thought, however, that drinking 3 cups of Hibiscus Tea a day can lower your blood pressure, according to a study conducted by the American Heart Association(AHA).
The research project saw sixty-five people aged between 30 to 70, all of whom were considered “at risk” from high blood pressure, split into two groups. The first group of participants consumed Hibiscus three times a day, while the second group consumed a placebo.
After six weeks, the results determined that the Hibiscus Group “showed an average fall of 7.2 percent in blood pressure, with some recording a 13.2 percent drop. The placebo group, in comparison, recorded a 1.3 percent drop”.
Other studies, including one published in the July 2004 edition of “Phytomedicine”, found that:
"Subjects who took an infusion prepared with 10 grams of dried calyx from Hibiscus for four weeks experienced reduced blood pressure”.
Many Scientists believe this incredible ability is owing to the anti-inflammatory properties of the Tea. These anti-inflammatory properties improve the elasticity of the body’s blood vessels, as well as their ability to dilate. According to some studies, Hibiscus Tea also has a diuretic action which flushes excess fluid and sodium/salt from the body, and inhibits angiotensin, one of the leading causes of higher blood pressure. Ultimately, Hibiscus Tea converts enzymes in the same way as ACE inhibitor drugs.
On the topic of blood pressure-lowering drugs, we’re often asked whether a combination of Hibiscus Tea and blood pressure medication is safe. The answer is generally yes. However, should one have any concerns, then we would always recommend a medical consultation with a doctor before drinking Hibiscus Tea. It’s important to be safe with your Tea consumption, first and foremost.
The bottom line is that Hibiscus Tea blood pressure benefits have the backing of much of modern science, with many suggesting that its consumption being as effective as Captopril and Lisinopril. In Taiwan, Hibiscus is already formally recognised as a treatment for high blood pressure. Is it only a matter of time before it’s recognised where you are, too?
Hibiscus can Improved Cardiovascular Health
While lowering blood pressure is linked to improved cardiovascular health, it isn’t the only way this Tea can help. In fact, Hibiscus Flower Tea benefits can improve the cardiovascular system in a multitude of ways, making it the ‘go-to’ brew for reducing the risks of Heart Disease and other similar conditions. Namely, this Tea can lower “bad” LDL Cholesterol.
Your body contains two types of cholesterol: HDL and LDL. While high levels of HDL cholesterol benefit your health, high levels of LDL cholesterol can lead to severe chronic conditions.
The antioxidant strength of Hibiscus Tea has been proven to lower levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol while protecting blood vessels from further damage.
One study published in the June 2010 edition of “Phytomedicine” established that:
“patients who suffered from metabolic syndromes experienced a decrease in overall cholesterol levels after taking a daily dose of 100 grams of Hibiscus sabdariffa extract powder”.
In a slightly older animal-based study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists discovered that hibiscus extract reduced the damage that cholesterol inflicted on the arteries of rabbits.
Finally, a 2009 study published in the “Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine” recognised the ability of Hibiscus Flower Tea to improve cholesterol levels in people with type-2 diabetes. Leading the research project was H. Mozaffari-Khosravi, and along with his colleagues, they studied diabetes patients who consumed either Hibiscus or Black Tea twice a day for one month.
The results indicated that those who drank Hibiscus Tea had higher levels of HDL “good” cholesterol and lower levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol. The researchers also noted that the participants who consumed Black Tea likewise had higher levels of HDL cholesterol at the end of the study, but their LDL levels did not change. The study concluded that Hibiscus Tea “lowers cholesterol, triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol”.
Hibiscus can Aid Weight Loss
Most of us will try, and try, and try to lose weight, often to no avail. The truth is that there’s no easy ‘fix-all’ solution, no magic potion or beans, or even Tea that can do the job without any assistance. Indeed, the absolute truth is that, even with Hibiscus Tea benefits, one should always aim to eat healthily and exercise frequently when attempting to lose weight. Nevertheless, Hibiscus Tea could still offer some much-needed support along the way.
To start with, HIbiscus Herbal Tea, on average, contains no more than 40 calories per serving. In fact, most hibiscus brews usually contain much less than that. Meanwhile, the average diet of a UK adult is rich in carbohydrates. These ‘carbs’ often contain high levels of sugar and starch which, in turn, results in considerable weight gain for most individuals.
The frequent consumption of Hibiscus Tea, on the other hand, has been proven to lower the absorption of starch and glucose, which ultimately results in improved weight management. Furthermore, Hibiscus Flowers are considered a diuretic herb and can quite literally flush out unwanted toxins and excess fluids from the body. This can likewise help you to lose weight.
Hibiscus weight loss benefits could, very potentially, go further still, although it remains to be seen whether this brew has metabolism-boosting properties. Many scientists theorise that it does, however. And while further studies are required, preliminary trials have suggested that similar to Green Tea or even Black Tea, Hibiscus can help you to burn calories both quickly and more efficiently by boosting the metabolism. We hopefully await the proof.
The weight loss potential of this loose leaf tea was summed up nicely by one 2014 study published in the Journal of Food & Function. It stated that frequent Hibiscus Tea consumption could:
“Reduce obesity and abdominal fat, and improve liver damage in obese individuals”.
The bottom line is that one way or another, Hibiscus Tea benefits weight loss.
Hibiscus can Help with Depression/Anxiety
Depression is not just feeling ‘down in the dumps’. It’s more; much more. Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, and the truth is that Hibiscus Tea can only have a minor impact.
One study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology in 2012 indicated that the flavonoids, anthocyanins and anthocyanidins in Hibiscus Flowers have potential antidepressant activity.
While this is promising, The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company will always recommend speaking to a doctor or mental health specialist should one have any concerns about depression.
Furthermore, and slightly more obscurely, a recent study has emerged discussing the potential side effects of minor depression, anxiety and most of all, stress. According to this research, chronic stress disrupts sleep and blood sugar levels. This then leads to increased hunger and comforted eating. Eventually, side effects like these can escalate, leading to further disrupted sleep, even higher levels of stress and even more disrupted blood sugars.
In time, this doesn’t just cause unhealthy levels of body fat, but also increases the risk of type-2 diabetes. Stopping stress at the source is the potential answer, and what could possibly be more relaxing than sitting on the sofa with a nice, hot cup of Hibiscus Herbal Tea?
Hibiscus Tea and Liver Protection
One particularly beneficial component found in Hibiscus Tea, anthocyanins, helps to reduce liver inflammation, according to a study published in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology in 2000. It reads:
“Anthocyanins in Hibiscus Tea could significantly reduce inflammatory liver lesions and oxidative liver damage in rats with toxic livers”.
While further studies conducted on humans are, without a doubt, required to confirm these findings, this study establishes the health benefits of Hibiscus Tea concerning liver-related ailments.
Hibiscus Tea and Menstrual Relief
It’s our least favourite time of the month - let’s be honest. But what would you say if we told you there might be an answer? Okay, so there’s no magic “cure” to menstrual discomfort; however, there could be a way to lessen its symptoms. Hibiscus Tea, a beverage that has, for hundreds of years, been consumed for this very reason.
The inevitability of menstrual discomfort once every month can be very frustrating. Amazingly, though, the frequent consumption of this beverage can balance your hormones, thus easing cramps, as well as reducing common symptoms such as mood swings, depression and overeating.
Hibiscus Tea benefits menstrual cycles further with its antispasmodic qualities, which often tackles cramping right at the source of the pain. Before modern science confirmed what we already knew, the 5,000-year-old practice of Ayurvedic Medicine recognised that Hibiscus (or “Japa Pushpa” as it’s known in Ayurveda) could alleviate irregular menstruation.
Hibiscus Tea and Pregnancy
A debate persists as to whether Hibiscus Tea is safe during and immediately after pregnancy. For this reason, The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company recommend you exercise caution when considering Hibiscus Tea while breastfeeding, and especially while pregnant.
We’re a family business with family values, and it is not in our interest to sell falsehoods. While some mothers and mothers-to-be drink Hibiscus Tea, institutes such as Baby Center, as well as its UK and Canadian equivalents, recommend against it.
Meanwhile, we recommend seeking a medical consultation before consuming Hibiscus Tea while breastfeeding, as well as while being pregnant.
Hibiscus Tea can Support the Immune System
During wintertime, in particular, we often need an extra boost to keep colds and the flu at bay. Hibiscus Tea could be the answer owing to it containing an abundance of Vitamin C. An essential nutrient that can help protect cells and maintain their health.
Consuming this beverage on a regular basis can help fulfil one’s daily intake of Vitamin C, which can improve the immune system. By propping the immune system it can ultimately help you to combat viral infections, mild fevers and many other minor ailments.
Furthermore, Vitamin C can help with wound healing. While also increasing the amount of iron one absorbs from plant sources such as broccoli and sprouts. If that wasn’t enough, the Vitamin C in this Tea and Vitamin A, is one way that Hibiscus Tea benefits skin. Increasing one’s intake of these vitamins (with the help of Hibiscus Tea, of course!) can lead to the improvement of acne, eczema and mild skin allergies.
Other Hibiscus Tea Benefits
One of the oldest known Hibiscus Tea benefits is its cooling effect on the body. This, as we already know, dates back to Ancient Egypt. Today, Hibiscus flowers are often a primary ingredient in numerous sports drinks as it helps to cool the body.
Then there is, of course, its ability to improve digestive system health. Due to its incredible diuretic properties, this beverage can normalise bowel movements and increase urination, as well as treat constipation.
Better still, when consumed frequently, this herbal brew can strengthen the gastrointestinal system. A group of organs that work together to convert food into energy and basic nutrients. This, in turn, may also help with weight management.
Finally, we have the astounding anti-ageing properties of Hibiscus Herbal Tea. Due to exfoliating effect of organic acids found in Hibiscus, it can break down dead skin and increase cell turnover. Hibiscus Tea is rich in antioxidants which can help to remove visible signs of ageing. Including loss of moisture, elasticity and, of course, wrinkles.
Where to Buy Hibiscus Tea
Ready to start your journey? Choose the best with The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company. If you’re looking to improve your health you could then pick either our Hibiscus Tea Bags or even our Rosehip and Hibiscus Tea Bags. With Rosehip included in this beverage can also offer its very own health benefits such as relief from respiratory conditions. Increased blood circulation and the potential of stronger bones.
If you prefer loose leaf Tea, then consider our Hibiscus Tea (coarse). Alternatively, why not break free from convention even further with our extraordinary Lemon Verbena, Hibiscus and Ginger Tea? As the name will likely suggest, this blend has not one, not two, but three ingredients. Lemon Verbena Tea is known for improving joint function and halitosis. Ginger, on the other hand, can support many of the benefits of Hibiscus. Including improved digestive and immune system health, as well as lower cholesterol and weight loss potential.
Best of all, every single one of our Teas to include hibiscus taste great! What more could you possibly want from your morning cup of Herbal Tea?
If you're interested in learning more about other tea types, why not check out our article on sage tea benefits?