Thursday, July 28, 2011

A letter to Karkadeh, my sweet hibiscus tea.

Dear Karkadeh,
Did you know that they call you Bunga Raya in Malaysia and that you're their national flower? I think it's a different kind of hibiscus flower though. Still, it sounds a little obscene to me but then again, karkadeh might sound just as indecent to them. Your street name, as you know, is Roselle while your birth name is Hibiscus Sabdariffa. Sorry to break it to you this way. Regardless, I'm glad that the Egyptian you decided to travel all the way from Egypt this year to spend the holy month of Ramadan with us. I know we're a lot quieter than what you're used to - what with the entertainment-driven Cairene Ramadan tents where you get to spend night after night in the hands of beautiful and not so beautiful ladies equally preening and ready to be as unholy in a holy month as possible. If you're being naughty and I suspect that you will be (be naughty for me - since I'll be fasting and won't be as naughty), you'll spill some of your self to stain them forever with your sweet purple dye. I know that you've been subjected to humiliation before in Malaysia when you were asked to be diluted - they didn't mean it, they're just not used to how sweet you can be and sometimes that intimidates them. I'm sorry that I offered you to them - they did not appreciate you for the shining star that you are. This year, I promise to use you in more than one way. I shall not only drink you for you are worthy of more attention than what you are given. And best of all, you will not have to share our home with Amar-el-din, that orange-spray-tan-like apricot juicy tart. I'm sorry I said tart. I'll be trying to curb my tongue from now on. Anyway, I'm glad you're visiting. I'm excited to be spending a lot of time with you. Until you meet my lips again, good night. 
Warm fuzzy feelings your way,
P.S. I painted that swirly designed stool in the last photo. 
Egyptian Karkadeh (Sweet Hibiscus Tea):
You'll need: 
2 scant cups of dry hibiscus flowers 
10 cups of water
3/4 to 1 cup of sugar (depending on your preferred sweetness)
Rinse the dry hibiscus flowers lightly and place in a large pot over high heat. Pour the water, stir, and allow to boil for 5-7 minutes. Lower the heat, add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved. Allow it to simmer for 40-45 minutes, stirring every now and then. Give it time to cool when you're done then strain it three times to get it as clear as possible. Place in your bottle or jug of choice and refrigerate. 
Serve with or without ice. Drink. Get a sugar rush.


  1. Thanks for the recipe! I studied in Egypt for a semester and loved this tea because they serve it everywhere during Ramadan even if you don't ask for it, but for the longest time I couldn't remember what it was. I guess hibiscus tea is also a popular drink in certain Latin American and Caribbean cultures, so your American readers like me should be able to find the dry flowers in the Hispanic foods aisle or at an Hispanic grocery. :)

  2. That was s cute Sarah.. the writing is beautiful with humor. I have never heard of Karkadeh before and this drink sure does looks amazing. And that swirl painting .. nice :)

  3. S.L. Stevens: I think there's a real lack of decent Egyptian recipes online and I'm trying to gather those that I like so that others can have a taste as well. I'm glad you found me and I hope the recipe serves you well. Thanks for the tip on where to find it. x.

    Sava, thank you. x.

    Kankana: Haha! Glad someone is reading. Thanks. You're lovely. x.

  4. Lovely writing and a very beautiful drink.

  5. Never had this before...despite having many Egyptian friends! In South Asian households(not mine though) there is the custom of having this drink called Roohafza for Ramadan. It is gross and I hate it as much as you hate tuna. Your pictures showcase karkadeh beautifully and I shall have to search it out. Your swirly stool looks really cute too. Ramadan Kareem to you!

  6. Beautiful and creative post! I was happy to include it in this week's Shiksa Picks. Looking forward to exploring your blog more! :)

  7. I drank this first time in Egypt when we were in holiday and we used to drink it every day, and we bought some 4 kilos of it there. Every summer i make the syrup too.
    I have a recipe in my place too .

  8. Love the painted stool :) And the color is just stunning with your beautiful tea!

  9. love the color! It temps me to try this. I think I had a taste of this during my bridal shower. It was presented by my high school friend. You got a nice stool man!

  10. Hi,
    Don't fight with yourself, be good to yourself instead; indulge through the art of Simple Abundant Living. Easier said than done! Lovely recipe for Hibiscus Tea. I was purchasing teas the other day and pass up a box of Hibiscus Tea by Hemani, name brand. I will have to get it next time out that way. Thank you for sharing!


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