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Sorrel: A spiced Caribbean Christmas drink

Sorrel is a simple, tart and delicious spiced beverage served at Christmas. Made with hibiscus, it’s best served over ice.

Two glasses of iced sorrel with an orange slice.

What is sorrel?

Sorrel, as it’s called in the Caribbean, is also known as Hibiscus sabdariffa, not to be confused with the Common sorrel (Rumex acetosa). Both have a sour/acidic flavour and can have health benefits, but they are quite different and not interchangeable.

In the Caribbean sorrel is a drink made with hibiscus and is most often served around Christmas when the fresh hibiscus is available. If someone says sorrel they may be referring to the prepared drink or the hibiscus used to make it.

When I was in Trinidad last year I visited the local market a few times to stock up on fresh produce. I spent time wandering, talking & taking photos and came across a small vendor with piles of dried hibiscus (sorrel) on his table. After a nice chat I wandered off with a bag of sorrel, some Sea Moss and his very detailed instructions on how to make both (he wanted to make sure that I knew the right way).

Where can I buy sorrel?

You don’t need to go all the way to Trinidad or the Caribbean to get sorrel, most Caribbean or Asian markets will carry packaged, dried sorrel year-round. Sorrel can be found dried whole, broken down into smaller pieces, or sold as hibiscus tea loose or in tea bags in your local health food store. Note: I haven’t tried using the tea to make this drink.

Whole dried sorrel on a white background

Sometimes you’ll find fresh sorrel (hibiscus) when it’s in season, around December or January.

Three whole fresh sorrel on a white background

Why sorrel is so good

Not only is sorrel a delicious beautiful, bright red beverage, it contains vitamin C and antioxidants. It’s great on it’s own or with a splash of rum for a more festive Christmas drink.

Two glasses of iced sorrel with an orange slice.

Sorrel made with Hibiscus

Sorrel is a simple, tart and delicious spiced beverage served at Christmas in the Caribbean
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
2 hours
Course Drinks
Cuisine Caribbean

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1/2 cup dried sorrel if fresh hibiscus is available you can use 1 cup
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground clove 1 – 2 if using a whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 allspice berries
  • to taste sweetener of choice honey, coconut sugar, coconut nectar

Instructions
 

  • Put dried sorrel/hibiscus and water into a pot on high heat and bring to a boil.
    A small metal sauce pot filled with water and sorrel (hibiscus) flowers floating on top sitting on a wooden counter top.
  • Add spices (ginger, cloves, allspice and cinnamon stick). Stir to incorporate.
  • Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Add sweetener of choice to taste and stir to dissolve.
  • Cover and remove from heat. Let steep for 30 minutes.
    A small metal sauce pot on a wooden counter top with red sorrel inside.
  • Strain into a pitcher to remove sorrel leaves and ginger.
    A glass Pyrex measuring cup topped with a small wire strainer. In the strainer are red hibiscus flowers and inside the cup is the red hibiscus juice.
  • Refrigerate to chill before serving.
  • To serve pour over ice, add a splash of rum (optional) and enjoy!

Notes

You can steep for a longer period of time, even up to overnight.
Ways to serve sorrel:
  • Serve chilled and over ice
  • Add some rum for a festive Christmas drink
  • Serve as is for a non-alcoholic beverage
  • Add some sparkling water to create a delicious fizzy drink
Keyword Christmas dessert, hibiscus tea, sorrel
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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3 Comments

  1. This reminds me of the Agua de Jamaica that I’ve had in Mexico. Have you tried that also? I’ve also heard that hibiscus helps prevent wrinkles. If that’s true, I’ll be brewing up some sorrel very soon! 🙂 Thanks for the recipe.

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