This is one of my favorite teas, and also one I grew up on. The leaves have a pleasant and distinct floral scent and are a pretty burgundy color. If you’re wondering about its taste, it is more along the lines of being tart. Maybe a bit like cranberries or sour cherries. Like most other teas, you can drink this cold or hot. In the summer I love to make a big pitcher of cold Jamaica, and in the winter I equally enjoy a warm mug of it. Now there can be variation in the strength and sweetness in making this tea. Traditionally, the tea tends to be strong and little sugar is added. I like it this way, but it’s about preference.
You can find this tea in most Hispanic or international aisles in the grocery store.
So here’s the basic recipe to steep enough for a 2 quart pitcher:
½ cup tea leaves
8 cups of water (divided in half)
¼ cup sugar
Start by bringing 4 cups of water to a boil. When the water starts boiling add the sugar. When dissolved, add the tea leaves, and turn the burner off and cover with a lid. At this point you are steeping the leaves. Leave covered off the heat for about 10-20 minutes. The longer you let it sit, the stronger the flavor and color will be.
After it is done steeping, use a strainer or chinois to pour the liquid in a pitcher. Put the drained leaves back in the pot and pour the last 4 cups of water over the leaves again. The reason to split in two batches of water is so that all flavor is extracted using only the required amount of liquid, and thus avoiding dilution. At this point the tea is ready if you want to drink it hot, or just to taste and adjust for sweetness. Otherwise, completely cool before serving over ice.
And if you want to take your tea a step further…. try a glass of ice cold tea over some fresh berries and mint (mine was from my garden). I sprinkled some sugar on the berries to let them macerate for a while before doing all of this too. Enjoy!