Zobo Drink (Sobolo/Bissap Juice): African Hibiscus Tea

March 17, 2018 (Last Updated: February 26, 2020)

As the weather warms up, step up your iced tea game with this refreshing zobo drink! This hibiscus iced tea drink made from sorrel/hibiscus dry leaves with a special twist of mine, is a refreshing way to welcome spring and summer

Zobo Drink (Sobolo/Bissap Juice/African Hibiscus Tea) in a cup

The weather is slowly warming up after a frigid winter. The cherry blossom festival begins soon and the signs of spring with the blooming flowers are already evident all around me. This put me in the mood for a refreshing childhood favorite of mine: the refreshing and popular African hibiscus tea known as Zobo drink (also called Bissap juice or Sobolo), a delicious, tea drink made from the dry flowers of the hibiscus or red sorrel plant. will be sharing my recipe for how to make zobo drink, a hibiscus iced tea that celebrates my childhood memories with an extra twist that elevates its already delicious taste!

Varieties of African Hibiscus Tea

Zobo drink as this beverage is commonly called in Nigeria is quite popular in other parts of Africa and goes by a variety of names. African hibiscus tea is called Bissap juice in Senegal and the Gambia, Sobolo in Ghana, Karkade in parts of Northern Africa, especially Egypt where it is quite the ceremonial drink . Outside of Africa, hibiscus tea is also quite common in other tropical regions where it is known as Sorrel in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, Red sorrel in most of the Caribbean, Agua de Jamaica in South America and Roselle in Australia . As the names for this popular hibiscus tea varies, so do the recipes but the simplest form of this drink have the dried hibiscus leaves steeped in cold or hot water with sugar added.

Today I will be sharing how to make zobo drink with you guys using my aunt’s zobo recipe because it is hands down the best I have ever tasted… and believe me I have tried a lot. Whenever we would to visit my cousins back in the day, or whenever my cousins would come visiting us, there was always a large bottle of Zobo drink for us to share, and even when I would miss my cousins after we had to part ways, I always looked forward to the refreshing Zobo I got to share with my sisters. I must warn you, you will be tempted to finish up this zobo drink in one sitting, even though there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing that (I don’t judge).hand pouring zobo drink into glass cup

By the way, my twist to this zobo drink recipe is the addition of angostura bitters, which takes already great drink to the next level (you can find more information on this and another refreshing African drink in this chapman drink recipe  where I use and talk about angostura bitters in more detail)!

pineapple, dry hibiscus leaves, ginger on a table

How to Make Zobo Drink

Ingredients

  • Two and a half cups of hibiscus or red sorrel buds
  • Cleaned bark of 1 pineapple
  • 3 cups or less of sugar
  • 4 ounces (about 113 grams) of ginger about a thumb size thinly sliced
  • A few dashes of angostura bitters
  • 12 cups of water

Recipe

  1. In a big stock pot, bring to boil the water, sorrel buds, pineapple bark, and ginger. Once the water starts to bubble from boiling, turn down the heat to low, and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.
  2. After 30 minutes, turn off the heat and add the sugar 1/2 a cup at a time, adjusting to your preferred sweetness level (I used 3 cups).
  3. Allow the tea to cool completely then strain out the sorrel buds, pineapple bark and ginger, and add the dashes of angostura bitters (I used about six dashes for the whole batch).
  4. Serve the tea chilled.

Health Benefits

Hibiscus tea has antioxidants properties and has been associated with lowered blood pressure effects in prehypertensive or mildly hypertensive adults regardless of age, gender or dietary supplements. They have also been associated with cholesterol reduction, where hibiscus extracts were discovered to reduce LDL (in other words, the bad cholesterol) and the ratio of LDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). Hibiscus has also been found to be rich in carotene, riboflavin, anthocyanins, ascorbic acid, niacin, calcium, iron and vitamin C. African hibiscus tea has also found a lot of utility in traditional folk medicine where it is valued for its mild laxative effect, ability to increase urination and relief during hot weather. Traditionally in Sudan, Hibiscus has been used for relief of sore throat and healing wounds.

Zobo Drink (Sobolo/Bissap Juice/African Hibiscus Tea) in a cup
Print Recipe
5 from 3 votes

Zobo Drink (Sobolo/Bissap Juice): African Hibiscus Tea Recipe

Zobo drink, a sweet hibiscus/sorrel drink (also known in West Africa as bissap juice or Sobolo) is an African hibiscus tea made from dry sorrel leaves and with a special twist of mine is a refreshing way to welcome spring and summer!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: caribbean, Ghanaian, Nigerian, West African
Servings: 12 cups
Calories: 93kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups of red sorrel buds
  • Cleaned bark of 1 pineapple
  • 3 cups or less of sugar
  • 4 ounces of ginger about a thumb size thinly sliced
  • A few dashes of angostura bitters
  • 12 cups of water

Instructions

  • In a big stock pot, bring to boil the water, sorrel buds, pineapple bark, and ginger. Once the water starts to bubble from boiling, turn down the heat to low, and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, turn off the heat and add the sugar 1/2 a cup at a time, adjusting to your preferred sweetness level (I used 3 cups).
  • Allow the tea to cool completely then strain out the sorrel buds, pineapple bark and ginger, and add the dashes of angostura bitters (I used about six dashes for the whole batch).
  • Serve the tea chilled.

Notes

I serve my hibiscus iced tea with chunks of frozen pineapple in it to add a little more flavor to the drink, and also as a treat to munch on once the drink is finished. The pineapple chunks infused with the hibiscus iced tea is an absolute treat.

Sources

  1. Singh P, Khan M, Hailemariam H (2017) Nutritional and Health Importance of Hibiscus Sabdariffa: A Review and Indication for Research Needs. J Nutr Health Food Eng 6(5): 00212. DOI: 10.15406/jnhfe.2017.06.00212
  2. Mahadevan, N. & Shivali, & Kamboj, P.. (2009). Hibiscus sabdariffa Linn.–An overview. Natural Product Radiance. 8. 77-83.
  3. Cisse, M., Dornier, M., Sakho, M., Ndiaye, A., Reynes, M., & Sock, O. (2009). Le bissap (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) : Composition et principales utilisations. Fruits,64(3), 179-193. doi:10.1051/fruits/2009013
  4. Diane L. McKay, C-Y. Oliver Chen, Edward Saltzman, Jeffrey B. Blumberg, Hibiscus Sabdariffa L. Tea (Tisane) Lowers Blood Pressure in Prehypertensive and Mildly Hypertensive Adults, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 140, Issue 2, February 2010, Pages 298–303

14 Comments

  • Reply
    ChiO
    March 18, 2015 at 10:46 am

    Zobolicious! Lovely pictures as always. Zobo with pineapple sounds lovely i am sure it tastes even better. You had to throw in the chinchin to make us jealous sha! Lol. Are you in the DC area?

    • Reply
      Ms. Yum
      March 18, 2015 at 5:36 pm

      Lol!!! Trust me, zobo with pineapples are the best! I am in the DC are as a matter of fact. I sent you a private email a while back to your oyacomechop email address so you can contact me directly through the email I sent. Let me know if you got it.

  • Reply
    Glo
    November 26, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    Helo pls wat is angostura bitters

    • Reply
      Ms. Yum
      March 21, 2017 at 7:36 am

      Hi Glo! According to Wikipedia: Angostura bitters is a concentrated bitters, or botanically infused alcoholic mixture, made of water, 44.7% ethanol, gentian, herbs and spices.
      Think of it like vanilla extract with other herbs and spices.

  • Reply
    Faith
    September 24, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    5 stars
    Where can I get the zobo leaves from?

    • Reply
      Lois
      September 26, 2017 at 12:23 pm

      Hi Faith! It really depends on where you live, but here in the U.S. a good place is always an African store. Hispanic ans Caribbean markets also have zobo leaves usually listed as hibiscus.

  • Reply
    Onyinyechi
    February 2, 2018 at 10:46 am

    Without refrigeration, what other way can zobo drink be preserved for about a month?

    • Reply
      Lois
      February 5, 2018 at 9:46 am

      Hey Onyinechi! I am not sure what can be done to preserve zobo outside refrigeration. I have never tried it out before, but I think maybe you can try canning techniques to preserve it.

  • Reply
    Faithie
    May 28, 2018 at 6:52 pm

    5 stars
    I absolutely love zobo!!!!

  • Reply
    Stacy Apugo
    May 28, 2018 at 7:00 pm

    5 stars
    Tastes good!

  • Reply
    Anita
    February 20, 2019 at 9:01 pm

    Hello Miss,
    Congratulations and plz keep up the great job. I’ve really appreciated your work because I’m far from home and I needed urgent information on soobolo. And you got it right there for me.
    Thanks and plz do more of our thing…African

    • Reply
      Lois
      February 28, 2019 at 2:47 pm

      I am glad to hear that Anita! It is my pleasure to help!

  • Reply
    Xstarist
    October 29, 2019 at 7:36 am

    Hello ma, I’ll like to add angostura bitters to my zobo so I can spice up the taste , will I be able to refrigerate it for a month,because I use preservatives for my zobo….

    • Reply
      Lois
      December 1, 2019 at 7:33 pm

      I have never used preservatives in my zobo, and I also have not tried keeping it for a month, so I am not sure how angostura bitters will affect your zobo shelf life.

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