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Archive for February, 2013

Flower Power – Making Fresh Hibiscus Tea

(agua de jamaica)

We’re heading down the road to collect some flowers from a bountiful row of hibiscus bushes nearby.

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Justus begins harvesting eagerly at the very first bush he sees.

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Just behind him is a quiet, gravel road which henceforth will be known as hibiscus heaven.  Hundreds of brightly colored petals reach to the sky, soaking up pure abundant sunshiny energy that will soon metamorphose into a concentrate of liquid bliss.

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Time to head back and get our tea makin’ on!

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All set up and ready to go!  Flowers are rinsed well to remove any ants or other debris.

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(Many people just use the petals, but the benefits of the hibiscus calyx are too good to be discarded.  The calyx (green leaf-shaped foliage that supports the flower’s petals) is rich in anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are pigments that are responsible for the hibiscus’ red color and the production of antioxidants.)

All cleaned and prepped.  Time to pour in our boiling water.




I added honey and the juice of a lime, which changes the deep purple tea into a bright shade of pinky-red.


The rest of the flowers were placed on trays and set in the sun to dry for later use.

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dried hibiscus

How to make fresh Hibiscus Tea

*around 5 flowers per liter, 1-2 per mug

1. Wash your flowers.  Destem and remove the stybus.

2.  Place them in your mug or pitcher.

3.  Pour boiling water over the flowers and allow to steep at least 5 minutes. (Leaving them in too long may result in a bitter flavor; for stronger tea simply add more flowers rather than steeping longer.)

4.  Strain

5.  If you’re making iced tea, add the sweetener of your choice, a squeeze of lime, and plenty of ice!  If you’re making hot tea, try steeping with cinnamon sticks.


Nutritional Benefits:

Hibiscus tea is rich in vitamin C, antioxidants and minerals, which allows the body to fight infections. Hibiscus tea is beneficial in ridding the respiratory tract of bacteria that may lead to infection. The antioxidant properties of hibiscus tea can also slow down the growth of any pre-cancerous cells that may be present in the body.  It has positive effects on cardiac health similar to that of wine, has the ability lower blood pressure, and may also be used to help depression and manage mood swings.

drinking hibiscus tea

Have you tried hibiscus tea?  Do you flavor yours a differently?



The tortoise that almost wasn’t.

My friend Vanessa noticed him on the way to our house this morning; he was on the road with cars zooming by in both directions.  She parked her car, picked the little guy up and brought him here.  We’ll be putting him back somewhere safe in just a little bit, but for now the kids are having some fun getting to know him.



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 a little tortoise yoga, anyone?  :)


Fun Facts: The lifespan of a tortoise is 80-150 years (The longest living Tortoise is 326 years).  Also, tortoises are land reptiles, while their close relatives, the turtles, are water dwellers.


The Touch-Me-Not (Mimosa pudica)

The Mimosa pudica (also called touch-me-not, or sensitive plant) is a plant whose leaves turn inward when touched and open up again minutes later.  It’s believed to be a defense mechanism, as an animal might be afraid of the rapid movement and would rather eat a less active one.  I discovered it when I was in the yard looking for interesting leaves.  I picked one of them from the ground and within seconds it was shriveled up and wilted in my hand.









Here I am touching the tip.  You can see how quickly the leaves are closing up.


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