Mexico is the destination for 85 percent of Nigeria’s hibiscus, and the Latin American country is likely to pay over $3 billion annually to Nigeria for the flower as trade resumes in earnest between both countries.
A popular Mexican drink, ‘Agua de Jamaica’ is made from steeped hibiscus flowers, diluted with water, and sweetened with sugar.
Introducing a refreshing twist to a traditional favourite, Mexicans make either hot or cold (but more often cold) tea of hibiscus using the leaves.
In a remarkable culinary exchange, this traditional West African ingredient has found its way to the kitchens of Mexico, where it is used to make a distinct variation of hibiscus tea.
“Hibiscus flower is used to make a variety of drinks in Mexico,” Adedoyin Adesanya, director of operations, AgroEknor – an agro commodity trading firm who exports large volumes of Hibiscus, said in a 2019 interview
Mexicans have long had a love affair with herbal teas, commonly enjoying brews made from flowers, leaves, and herbs like chamomile, hibiscus, and mint.
However, the infusion of zobo leaves into their tea repertoire has brought about a unique flavour profile that has captured the taste buds of many.
The process involves steeping dried zobo leaves in hot water, often adding sweeteners like honey or agave syrup to balance the natural tartness. The result is a vividly crimson, tangy tea that boasts a refreshing taste with a hint of exotic flair.
The popularity of Mexican zobo tea has been on the rise in recent years, with specialty tea shops and cafes incorporating it into their menus. It has become a sought-after beverage not only for its distinct taste but also for its potential health benefits.
Many Mexican cultures use agua fresca de Jamaica as a cure for the symptoms of high blood pressure, and the flower/drink has been shown to provide additional vitamin C to the body.
It also serves as a diuretic – a substance that helps cleanse the human body of excess salt. Too much salt in the body leads to different issues including increasing one’s risk of heart failure, heart disease, stomach cancer, as well as diseases of the kidney.
Hibiscus leaves are rich in antioxidants and have been associated with various health advantages, including improved digestion and blood pressure regulation.
Furthermore, this unexpected culinary fusion has sparked cultural exchange discussions between Mexico and Nigeria.