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Lala said

Toning down hibiscus flavour in tea

I don’t mind the taste of hibiscus in tea. However, I have a few blends that are real heavy on the hibiscus and I can’t even drink them when I add sugar.

Any ideas or tips on blending to try to tone down hibiscus in tea?

18 Replies

Certain things that work for me:
Use more water
Steep for less time
Drink iced
Cold brew

Good luck. :)

Lala said

Thanks. I did a cold brew overnight of one of my teas and it was so bitter hibiscus I almost choked on it. Sweetener did not help. I ended up dumping the whole pitcher. Thats what spurred me to ask for help. I brewed it for about 16 hours, next time I will try for less.

Kittenna said

I did a cold brew with something hibiscus-heavy as well, and it was definitely puke-worthy, haha. Depends on the hibiscus ratio though, I expect.

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Can you mix in more tea or pick out some hibiscus pieces? Hibiscus is really tough to tone down. It doesn’t take much to take over an entire blend.

Lala said

Thanks, I will give that a try.

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I hope you don’t mind if I unintentionally derail the thread, but I’ve wondered why companies usually add hibiscus?

Lala said

Thats a good question and I do not know the answer. Normally I don’t mind hibiscus if it is in a small amount. I have eaten a fresh, whole hibiscus flower before (it was in a drink), and it tasted more like sweet candy, versus bitter like it is in tea.

I’ve only used it in a few blends since I do not prefer the flavor but I like to use a tiny bit for a little tartness. For example, I’ve used it in a mango blend to give a more realistic mango flavor, so that the flavor was not just sweet mango. Hibiscus does also create a very nice colored liquor. I’ve read a few articles about the recent popularity of hibiscus. Some people love the tartness. It does have several vitamins and antioxidants and has been traditionally used in a number of regions for health purposes.

Kittenna said

It’s cheap and adds weight? I can think of no other reason that it would be added to some blends in such quantities. It works quite well to add a bit of tartness if used in small amounts (e.g. DavidsTea’s Strawberry Rhubarb Parfait was a great example of effective hibiscus use, to mimic a bit of rhubarb tartness) but it’s found in way too many herbals, IMO.

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Lynxiebrat said

I think because hibiscus adds an intriguing flavor, to balance out the sweet, which is why I like a little bit of hibiscus.

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Oh OK, thanks for clarifying, everyone! Makes sense now.

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Jackie said

Steeping for less time always helps for me, I find however, that it not only takes away the hibiscus, but also the rest of the teas flavours. If you’re willing to try new teas without the hibiscus, try some from David’s Tea. I find that most of their blends don’t use hibiscus. Hope this helps! :)

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Lala said

Does anyone know if there is a difference between hibiscus and hibiscus flowers? I have seen both listed as ingredients in tea.

Kittenna said

Pretty sure they’re the same thing, both would refer to hibiscus petals. I could be wrong, but afaik hibiscus leaves, etc. aren’t used.

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Hibiscus is one of the ingredients that I immediatly veer away from because of the potency of it. I’ve rarely found it used in a tea where it didn’t completely overwhelm what they were trying to do. That might just be my palate though. I do tend to not buy if I see it on the ingredient list though.

I feel the same way. There are so many interesting blends that I have passed up on lately just because they have included it. I hate the way it overpowers the tea and turns it bitter. It has its place in some blends, but in others I just can’t figure out why they would include it.

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From what I understand, hibiscus is generally used to give fruit tisanes a deep, red colour – i.e. to ensure that the tea is opaque and look more ‘fruity’. This is probably a cheaper method rather than using more fruit. Also, hibiscus has health benefits like reducing hypertension and being high in vitamin C so appealing to the health-conscious is probably an additional bonus. Personally, I love hibsicus tea unless it is overwhelmingly sour, but I think it is a bit of cheek for something that is predominantly hibiscus to be sold as a “mixed berry tea” or whatever. Have you thought of adding something pungent like ginger and black pepper, or something bitter and/or astringent rather than or in addition to something sweet? That might help balance out the sourness. Amla and hibiscus go really well together.

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I usually just pick out some of the hibiscus pieces after they are in my infuser, but before I pour any water in it. Stupid hibiscus… in tea anyway.

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