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How To Make Bissap : Origins and Benefits of Hibiscus Tea

Have you ever heard of "Bissap", "Karkade", "Guinea sorrel" or "agua de Jamaica"? All these words refer to the same thing in different parts of the world: a drink made from hibiscus flowers. Consumed for its refreshing taste of tangy red fruits in Africa, bissap has many virtues.

Let's take a closer look at hibiscus, its origin, its benefits for the body and the skin as well as a small recipe for this magic infusion.


Hibiscus is a plant of the Malvaceae family, with several hundred species. In this article, we are refering to Hibiscus Sabdariffa. Hibiscus Sabdariffa is a plant native to Southeast Asia that was imported to Africa in the 19th century. The hibiscus infusion or Bissap quickly became a typical drink in many African cultures. It is found in Senegal, Mali, Ivory Coast, Guinea and Egypt to name a few.



Bissap has long been used in the traditional African pharmacopoeia. Indeed, hibiscus is full of antioxidants, vitamin C, minerals and proteins, which allows it to be a major ally in the fight against free radicals (often responsible for diseases related to aging cells and certain types of cancers).

Hibiscus also helps regulate digestion, fight against fatigue and reduce cholesterol levels. Hibiscus infusions also aids in decreasing blood pressure, which in turn helps prevent cardiovascular diseases.

And what about the effects in skin care ?

The virtues of bissap do not stop at health. Nicknamed "the botox plant" for its effects on the skin. Hibiscus helps  :
- moisturize the skin: Hibiscus oil is rich in essential fatty acids and therefore allows the skin to better absorb water.
- ensure glowy skin: thanks to its antioxidant content, it helps eliminate dead skin and impurities.
- fight against the signs of premature aging: Rich in polyphenols, hibiscus stimulates the production of collagen, thus improving the skin's elasticity. It also limits the activity of elastase, the enzyme responsible for skin aging.

In beauty, Hibiscus Sabdariffa can be used as a powder, oil or infusion.


Now that hibiscus has no secret for us, let's focus on the recipe. 
Bissap can be consumed hot or cold.

1. Recipe for a hot infusion :
Ingredients :
- water
- 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried hibiscus flowers per cup

Step 1: Bring water to a boil.
Step 2: Add the hibiscus flowers.
Step 3: Remove from heat.
Step 4: Leave to infuse for about 10 minutes until the infusion turns purple.
Step 5: Strain before serving (or use a tea ball).

It is possible to add sugar according to your taste.

2. Recipe for a cold infusion or bissap juice
Ingredients (for 1L) :
- ½ bunch of mint
- 1 pack of vanilla sugar
- 200g of hibiscus flowers
- Sugar or honey according to your convenience.

Step 1: Bring water to a boil.
Step 2: Add the bunch of mint and let infuse for 4-5 minutes.
Step 3: Remove the mint and add the hibiscus. Boil for 20 minutes until the infusion is purple.
Step 4: Let cool and strain.
Step 5: Add the vanilla sugar and other sweetener according to your preference. 
Step 6: Pour the juice into a bottle and put it in the refrigerator.

Once cool, your bissap is ready to be enjoyed!

Are you a fan of bissap? What is this drink with a thousand names called in your country?

Photo by Olya Kobruseva From Pexels

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