What Is Hibiscus Tea? Benefits, Risks, And How To Make

Written by Sindhu Koganti , BTech (Biotechnology), Diploma In Nutrition

Hibiscus tea is an herbal beverage with several medicinal values. It is made from the dried petals of the Hibiscus sabdariffa flowers native to Africa. The benefits of hibiscus tea can be attributed to its polyphenolic compounds, antioxidants, and flavonols. These may help treat many ailments. The tea is also said to possess anti-inflammatory properties that help fight against inflammation and reduce the risk of liver problems.

Here, we understand the potential health benefits of hibiscus tea, nutrition facts, its preparation process, and the possible risks associated with it. Keep reading.

Hibiscus Tea Nutrition

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 100 grams of brewed hibiscus tea contain (1):

Water99.6g
Calories0
Calcium8 mg
Iron0.08 mg
Magnesium3 mg
Phosphorous1 mg
Potassium20 mg
Sodium4 mg
Zinc0.04 mg
Manganese0.477 mg
Niacin0.04 mg
Folate1 µg
Choline0.4 mg

Hibiscus tea also contains antioxidants that protect the cells from free radical damage and help prevent and treat many diseases (2).

So what are the health benefits of drinking hibiscus tea? Scroll down to know in detail.

Health Benefits Of Hibiscus Tea

1. May Help Lower Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is directly linked to an increased risk of heart disease. However, studies suggest that taking hibiscus tea daily may help lower blood pressure. Pre- and mildly-hypertensive adults who consumed 8 ounces (720 ml) of hibiscus tea daily for six weeks showed beneficial effects (3).

A review published in the Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology and Research suggests that hibiscus tea may lower blood pressure in patients with stage 1 hypertension (4). Besides, it may also lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure (5). However, more studies are warranted to understand this benefit of hibiscus tea.

2. May Help Reduce Cholesterol Levels

The intake of hibiscus tea may help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels besides increasing HDL (good) cholesterol values (6). In a study, 60 people with diabetes were asked to drink hibiscus or black tea twice a day for a month. Individuals who drank hibiscus tea showed a significant rise in HDL cholesterol levels and a dip in LDL cholesterol and triglyceride values (7).

3. May Improve Liver Health

The antioxidants and flavonoids in hibiscus extracts may help improve liver health (8). Hibiscus anthocyanins (Has), which are the natural pigments available in dried hibiscus flowers, were found to reduce the incidence of liver lesions in rats (9). A study also found that hibiscus extracts may help prevent fat accumulation and treat fatty liver disease (10).

The ethanolic extracts of hibiscus leaves and calyces (a part of the flower) contain polyphenols and flavonoids. These compounds possess antioxidant and anti-hyperlipidemic (cholesterol-lowering) effects (11). Besides, the dried hibiscus flowers have antioxidant effects that may help prevent liver fibrosis (formation of large scar tissue in the liver) (12).

4. May Help Reduce The Risk Of Cancer

Hibiscus extracts possess chemopreventive properties and are used in cancer treatment (13). They may suppress and reverse the carcinogenic process besides inducing apoptosis (death of cancer cells) ( 14). A study conducted by Chung Shan Medical University (Taiwan) also found that polyphenol-rich hibiscus extracts may help induce apoptosis in patients with gastric cancer (15). Besides, a review published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine suggests that hibiscus extracts prevent the growth of cells that cause skin cancer (16).

5. May Promote Weight Loss

The polyphenols in Hibiscus sabdariffa may regulate energy and lipid metabolism and help with weight loss (17). For example, the oral administration of Hibiscus sabdariffa’s aqueous extract (120 mg/kg/day) for 60 days showed weight-loss effects in obese mice (18). In addition, a study conducted by Chung-Shan Medical University (Taiwan) found that hibiscus extracts may help reduce abdominal fat and obesity (10).

Insufficient Evidence For

6. May Act against Bacterial Infections

The methanol extracts of Hibiscus sabdariffa exhibit antibacterial properties and have therapeutic potential. These extracts can be used against disease-causing bacteria like B. subtilis, S. aureus, and E. coli. Of all, the water extract of hibiscus strongly inhibited E. coli (which causes diarrhea, urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia, and other illnesses) (19), (20), (21).

7. May Help Control Blood Sugar Levels

A study suggests that the H. rosasinensis petals present in hibiscus tea may lower glucose levels in the blood. The findings also show that this tea may be an effective option to manage diabetes (22). Moreover, taking 150 ml of hibiscus tea thrice a day for four weeks was shown to decrease insulin resistance (23).

8. May Reduce Inflammation

Additional oxygen intake during intense exercise may increase oxidative stress. However, the flavonoids and polyphenols in hibiscus tea have anti-inflammatory properties, which were found to reduce oxidative stress (24). Hibiscus sabdariffa was also proven to protect against neuroinflammation and improve memory function in rats (25 ).

Does excess intake of hibiscus tea pose any risks? Can pregnant and lactating women consume it? We answer these questions in the following section.

Side Effects Of Hibiscus Tea

Consuming hibiscus tea in moderation is generally considered safe. However, taking it in high doses may potentially contribute to liver damage (26). Besides, a study conducted by the University of Nigeria found that hibiscus extracts may interact with hydrochlorothiazide (a diuretic drug) (27).

As stated, hibiscus tea helps lower blood pressure in hypertensive individuals. Hence, one must avoid drinking this tea if they have low blood pressure. The safety of hibiscus tea in pregnant and lactating women has not been established. Hence, these women are advised to consult their doctor before consuming it.

How to prepare hibiscus tea at home? What ingredients do you need? Continue reading to know the answers.

How To Make Hibiscus Tea?

What You Need

  • Dried hibiscus flowers – 2 teaspoons
  • Water – 1 cup
  • Teabag – Optional
  • Cinnamon stick – Optional
  • Lime wedges – Optional
  • Clove, ginger, and mint leaves – Optional

Process

  1. Boil the water and add the dried hibiscus flowers.
  2. Transfer into a teapot once the concoction is boiled.
  3. Drop in a teabag if you want to add caffeine to your tea.
  4. Allow it to steep for five minutes. While you wait, the hibiscus flowers will give the water a sharp, zingy taste. Allow to steep for more than 5 minutes if you wish your tea to be strong.
  5. Add your preferred sweetener to the beverage.
  6. Pour the tea into your cup using a metal strainer. Some people don’t prefer to strain hibiscus petals as they like to chew them. You can try that as well.

What is the recommended intake of hibiscus? Is it the same for everyone? Let’s understand in the following section.

How Much Hibiscus Tea Should You Drink?

As stated, a moderate intake of hibiscus tea has many health benefits. Its recommended intake to lower blood pressure levels may vary from person to person. It highly depends on your weight, age, and health status. However, taking three cups of hibiscus tea a day is generally considered safe and helps reduce hypertension.

The Takeaway

Hibiscus tea is rich in antioxidants and flavonoids with anti-inflammatory properties. It helps lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, improve liver health, reduce the risk of cancer, and promote weight loss. However, consuming this herbal tea in excess may have certain side effects, including liver damage. Besides, pregnant and lactating women, and people with low blood pressure should consult their doctor before consuming it.

References:

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  1. Beverages, tea, hibiscus, brewed
    https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171946/nutrients
  2. Antioxidant and drug detoxification potentials of Hibiscus sabdariffa anthocyanin extract
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21314460/
  3. Hibiscus sabdariffa L. tea (tisane) lowers blood pressure in prehypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20018807/
  4. Effect of hibiscus sabdariffa on blood pressure in patients with stage 1 hypertension
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6621350/
  5. Effect of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) on arterial hypertension: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25875025/
  6. Hibiscus sabdariffa L. in the treatment of hypertension and hyperlipidemia: a comprehensive review of animal and human studies
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3593772/
  7. Effects of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on lipid profile and lipoproteins in patients with type II diabetes
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19678781/
  8. Anti-hepatotoxic activities of Hibiscus sabdariffa L. in animal model of streptozotocin diabetes-induced liver damage
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4131030/
  9. Protective effect of Hibiscus anthocyanins against tert-butyl hydroperoxide-induced hepatic toxicity in rats
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10762726/
  10. Antioxidant and antihyperlipidemic activity of Hibiscus sabdariffa Linn. leaves and calyces extracts in rats
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19382724/
  11. Antioxidant and antihyperlipidemic activity of Hibiscus sabdariffa Linn. leaves and calyces extracts in rats
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19382724/
  12. The protective effects of Hibiscus sabdariffa extract on CCl4-induced liver fibrosis in rats
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16176854/
  13. Antitumoral Effect of Hibiscus sabdariffa on Human Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Multiple Myeloma Cells
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27618152/
  14. Chemopreventive properties of Hibiscus sabdariffa L. on human gastric carcinoma cells through apoptosis induction and JNK/p38 MAPK signaling activation
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17145051/
  15. Hibiscus polyphenol-rich extract induces apoptosis in human gastric carcinoma cells via p53 phosphorylation and p38 MAPK/FasL cascade pathway
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15791651/
  16. Components in aqueous Hibiscus rosa-sinensis flower extract inhibit in vitro melanoma cell growth
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC5198834/
  17. Multi-Targeted Molecular Effects of Hibiscus sabdariffa Polyphenols: An Opportunity for a Global Approach to Obesity
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC5579700/
  18. Effect of Hibiscus sabdariffa on obesity in MSG mice
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17765418/
  19. Antibacterial efficiency of the Sudanese Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) a famous beverage from Sudanese folk medicine
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27104041/
  20. Physicochemical properties and antimicrobial activity of Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.)
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23749748/
  21. E. coli (Escherichia coli)
    https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/index.html
  22. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L. (red Hibiscus) Tea, Can It Be Used as A Home-Remedy to Control Diabetes and Hypercholesterolemia?
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/354604027_Hibiscus_rosa-sinensis_L_red_Hibiscus_Tea_Can_It_Be_Used_as_A_Home-Remedy_to_Control_Diabetes_and_Hypercholesterolemia
  23. The Effect of Green Tea versus Sour Tea on Insulin Resistance Lipids Profiles and Oxidative Stress in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Randomized Clinical Trial
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25242840/
  24. The Effect of Green Tea and Sour Tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) Supplementation on Oxidative Stress and Muscle Damage in Athletes
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27736246/
  25. Mechanisms of Action of Nutritionally Rich Hibiscus sabdariffa’s Therapeutic Uses in Major Common Chronic Diseases: A Literature Review
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33507846/
  26. Hibiscus sabdariffa L. in the treatment of hypertension and hyperlipidemia: a comprehensive review of animal and human studies
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3593772/
  27. Herb-drug interaction between the extract of Hibiscus sabdariffa L. and hydrochlorothiazide in experimental animals
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21480802/
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