Friday, April 9, 2010

Karkady Tea is Not My Cup of Tea

Today, right before lunch time I heard my colleague, Iris Tan, was giggling inside my immediate boss's office. Since I had not much mood to do my work this Friday, I decided to join them and three of us started chit chatting and joking around.

Iris Tan and I like to drop him a visit in his office and tease him. Even though quite often he gives us quite significant amount of pressures at work, we both still find him pretty funny and entertaining given his unusual personality. At times, he talks to himself and obviously talks to his plants, a bunch of spiral lucky bamboos named Sunshine, which peacefully sits right behind his seat.

Today, he shared with us all the contents of his big TUMI bag which he carries to office everyday. All of sudden, he took out a pack of dried hibiscus petals that he bought during his vacation in Egypt last December. He explained to us that those dried hibiscus petals are supposed to be dissolved with boiling water and we should drink the red water. According to him, this hibiscus tea is very healthy, he drinks that every morning and it is used as one of Ribena's ingredients. That hibiscus tea in Egypt is known as Karkady.

Not long after he shared two dried hibiscus petals to me and Iris Tan, he sent us two emails about Karkady's definition and benefits. We tried to make the tea from the dried hibiscus petals before lunch.

My cup of Karkady Tea

See the dried hibiscus petals

Karkady - Hibiscus Tea

Karkady is one of the most popular and unusual drinks that you can find in Egypt. Made from the dried, dark red petals of the Hibiscus flowers. It is served in many of the popular cafe's throughout Egypt. The best Karkady comes from Upper Egypt. Be sure to bring home a bag of dried petals from Aswan or Luxor.
  • 1 cup hibiscus petals
  • 2 cups sugar
Pick over the dried petals, removing any stems or leaves. Soak the hibiscus petals in cold water to cover for 1-2 hours. Transfer the petals and water to a pot and bring to a boil. Remove the pot immediately and strain the liquid through filter paper. Return the petals to the pot, add fresh cold water to cover, and repeat as above. Repeat the process until the karkady loses its reddish hue. Then, discard the petals and sweeten the juice while it is still hot. Serve cold, although it is a pleasant drink when served warm in the wintertime. 
It is possible to purchase hibiscus tea bags from other lands as a substitute, but the intensity of flavor will not be the same. I have found hibiscus tea bags from Poland in the international food department of a very large supermarket.   

Benefits of Hibiscus:
  • The tea is a mild diuretic, which helps the body to expel toxins, and is often used to lower blood pressure. Clinical studies have been carried out which support its use for controlling blood pressure. As a result, it can be beneficial for those whose blood pressure problems are caused by stress
  • The tea is also thought to be beneficial for lowering cholesterol 
  • Studies have concluded that those suffering from type 2 diabetes may benefit from drinking hibiscus tea
  • These benefits are also thought to be useful in combating heart disease
  • Another traditional use of the tea is to treat liver problems, particularly in Eastern medicine
  • The tea is also of benefit to those who wish to lose weight, as it is thought to inhibit the body from absorbing too many carbohydrates
  • The tea is packed with Vitamin C and can help to fight the symptoms of colds and flu and strengthens the immune system. It has powerful antioxidant properties and can help to remove bacteria from the system. It is useful for preventing and fighting infections
  • Regular consumption of the tea can keep the body's bladder function healthy and prevent constipation. It can help to keep the digestive system generally healthy and has a soothing effect of inflammation
  • People suffering from depression may also benefit from a regular intake of hibiscus tea, as it has a positive effect on the central nervous system and can help to control moods.
    Iris Tan forced herself to drink the whole cup of tea but I could not take this so called super healthy or Vitamin-rich Hibiscus Tea's taste. I hated its weird strong smell and sour taste. I thew the red tea away only after two gulps.

    I appreciated my boss's kindness in sharing this full of benefits tea from Egypt. However, pardon my language, to me this hibiscus tea really tasted like shit and its taste didn't even close to Ribena at all. I could not tolerate the sour and smelly taste. It's definitely not my cup of tea.

    I would definitely stick to the conventional tea leaves for my regular cup of tea.

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