I am sitting here writing this blog post in 100 degree (!!!) weather. The apartment I'm moving out of has no air conditioning, and all I have to prevent myself from melting is a fan and a hibiscus mojito. We hardly had a spring (at least here in New York), but summer came in full force!
A few years ago while living in China, mojitos became my de facto drink for cooling off during the muggy summers in Beijing and Shanghai. The main reason, other than the fact that mojitos are delicious, was that Bacardi rum seemed to be the only liquor that wasn't outrageously more expensive than it is in the U.S. Don't ask me why. When I traveled down south to Macau I could cool off with all the vinho verde I wanted, but up north in China, rum cocktails were the only good drinks I could have that didn't break the bank. So when I found a great gigantic tea market on the outskirts of Beijing, I bought hibiscus tea in bulk and made hibiscus mojitos every week.
Hibiscus tea has a fruity, almost berry- or cherry-like flavor, but is also quite tart, so it needs a fair amount of sugar for balance. I add a fair amount of sugar to my hibiscus iced tea (which can certainly be gulped on its own!), but feel free to adjust the proportions. If you want to sip this mojito at lunchtime on a weekday and have work to do, skip the rum and go virgin. And if you want to make a frozen dessert version of this, with all the boozy flavor, try this hibiscus mint granita.
Makes 1 drink
- 15 to 20 mint leaves, plus a nice sprig for garnish
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 ounce fresh lime juice
- 2 ounces light rum
- 6 ounces hibiscus tea* (see below)
- In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle the mint leaves with the sugar and lime juice (the sugar granules help bruise the mint and extract flavor). Add the rum, hibiscus tea, and a few ice cubes, and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled glass. Garnish with a mint sprig and serve.
Hibiscus Iced Tea
Serves 4 to 6
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup loosely packed dried hibiscus flowers
- 1 cup sugar
- Bring the water to boil. Remove from the heat, then steep the hibiscus flowers for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sugar, stirring until fully melted, and allow the hibiscus flowers to steep for another 5 minutes. Strain out the flowers and allow hibiscus tea to cool at room temperature. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or until ready to drink.