Mulled Zobo (Sorrel)


Hibiscus tea, sorrel tea, Roselle drink, bissap tea, sobolo, zoborodo all refer to one and the same drink, made from same ingredient and which can be regarded as a tonic due to its high nutritional content. (Read more about the nutritional benefits of sorrel here.)

Zobo is the local name for hibiscus tea in Nigeria and is quite a popular drink especially since its so full of nutrients, particularly vitamin C. This drink is also highly pigmented with an intense deep red colour. The deep colour is attributed to the phyto chemicals it contains, which are believed to be powerful antioxidants, required for the neutralisation of free radicals in the body, and the reversal of chemical processes which lead to ageing or pre-mature ageing. The tea is also believed to support weight loss.
Funke Koleosho's Mulled Zobo

So it is clear that drinking sorrel regularly have huge health benefits.

The worry is that most people tend to drink this tea in a way which puts the health benefits in doubt. For instance, an awful amount of sugar added, in my view, nullifies the whole reason for drinking it. In addition, boiling the petals for the amount of time required to extract the tea from the petals also have some detrimental effects on the vitamin C content...(vitamin C is thought to get destroyed at temperatures above 90 degree centigrade.)

Maximising the nutritional benefits of Zobo:
In order to get the most out of my zobo drink, here are some of the things I do:
  • I do not heat the petals above 60 degrees
  • 1 blend the petals and steep for minimum one hour to allow the petals to infuse and yield all their goodness. The longer it is allowed to steep, the more developed and infused the tastes and flavours from the spices and and petals
  • I carry out the process of steeping in the refrigerator to inhibit bacterial growth
  • I sweeten with other fruit juices such as pineapple or apple juice. I also use honey but have refrained from using sugar completely
  • I add other herbs/spices such as ginger, lemon, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Aside from the fact that these herbs/spices contribute their own nutritional goodness, in addition, they contribute to the development of the taste of the resulting drink.


Mulled Zobo

Why Mulled?
If you are wondering what I mean by mulled, it simply is the addition of spices/herbs to enhance taste and flavour. This is akin to mulled wine drunk during festive occasions. Made this way, the drink is even more delicious and refreshing. Great to drink daily. It also makes an excellent drink that can be served for entertaining guests, instead of the common unhealthy fizzy drinks.

Try my refined recipe here...

What you need:
  • Dried hibiscus flowers or zobo petals (give the petals a full visual inspection to ensure they do not contain any mold or display spoilage. Fresh petals may also be used, but this may affect results in terms of yield and tartness)
  • Hot, not boiling water
  • Cloves (kanafuru) ground or whole. They could be bitter so use only small amounts
  • Fresh ginger peel the ginger before using
  • Cinnamon (awopa) ground or whole
  • Nutmeg ground or whole. Use only small amount
  • Fresh fruit juice such as apple, pineapple or orange
  • Lemon, use fresh or bottled lemon juice. Its use is optional
  • Honey (optional)

What to do
  1. If you are using dried petals, it is important to rinse the petals in some fresh clean hot (not boiling) water, to remove all traces of sand, chaff etc. I use hot (not boiling ) water to also get rid of microbial growth that may be present on the petals. Prior to this make sure you visually inspect the petals to ensure that do not look rotten or spoiled. 
  2. Then transfer the washed petals into a blender and add, again hot but not boiling water. Add the peeled fresh ginger, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Blend all together, ensuring the petals are blended into a pulp. 
  3. By now you will notice the intense red colour. Transfer blend into a large jug and allow to stand for a while (preferably in the fridge to allow the petals yield all their goodness. 
  4. Then pass the blend through a fine sieve or muslin cloth to remove the sediments. This residue can be used in other ways; used to bake cake.
  5. In another clean jug, pour the sieved drink and then blend with some fruit juice of choice. Continue to blend until you achieve your preferred level of tartness or sweetness. You can also add honey to enhance taste. Stir well and add a dash of lemon juice before serving....if you wish
  6. Best served chilled but you can also serve warm. 


Mulled Zobo


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