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The Flower of Jamaica, Hibiscus sabdariffa, Jamaica rose or also known as Abyssinian rose, is a hibiscus of the Malvaceae family, native to tropical Africa, from Egypt and Sudan to Senegal, although, due to its medicinal properties, it is successfully cultivated in Mexico, America Central and in South and Southeast Asia, including South China.
The flower has a high content of organic acids, including citric, malic and tartaric. Hibiscus drinks are wine-red in color, due to their anthocyanin content.
At first, this plant was cultivated to obtain the fiber that was extracted from its tough stems, used as a substitute for the jute used to make burlap.
Later, the calyxes of the plant were used as a food coloring, especially in Germany, but they are easy to find in the markets of France, used by the Senegalese community as flowers or syrup. The leafy greens are used as a kind of spicy spinach that Senegalese sometimes add to rice and their country's national dish, the tiéboudienne, of rice and fish.
The calyxes are harvested when they acquire a wine-like tone, and are left to dry to be used mainly in the preparation of refreshing beverages without caffeine. Due to its organoleptic characteristics, the extract is frequently used as a flavor corrector for other beverages or medicines.
The Jamaica rose is attributed diuretic, antihypertensive, antiparasitic and slightly laxative properties. The effectiveness of an aqueous extract of Hibiscus sabdariffa in the treatment of mild to moderate arterial hypertension was confirmed in a clinical study involving 39 patients.
The hypotensive effect of the Jamaica water drink does not seem to be attributable to a possible diuretic effect, which could not be verified in an experimental study.
In Africa and especially in the Sahel, a sugary infusion called carcadé is prepared that is even sold on the street. In the Caribbean, it is prepared from fresh fruit and eaten at Christmas. In Trinidad and Tobago there is even a drink called Shandy Sorrel, which combines this infusion with beer. In Central America it is taken as a refreshing drink or as a hot infusion, and with it jams, sweets, syrups and other soft drinks are also prepared. In Mexico it is very popular to drink the cold infusion, as an accompaniment to food and it is known as Agua de Jamaica, because of its taste and price it is considered the healthiest drink in Mexican cuisine. In El Salvador a fermentation process has been developed in which no type of treatment with chemical inputs is involved, allowing the elaboration of a wine based on the Rose of Jamaica, whose consumption is recommended for the accompaniment of red meats, stews and desserts. or as a refreshing alcoholic beverage in hot climates or coastal environments such as beaches.
In Panama, it was introduced by Jamaican immigrants and is known as saril which comes from sorrel (the name derives from the sahel voice). A soft drink is prepared that is consumed at Christmas by making an infusion of calyces of this plant with ginger and which is popularly known as "chicha de saril".
In the province of Misiones, Argentina, it is known as rosella, and it is used to prepare a jam, boiling fresh calyxes with sugar.