Jamaican Sorrel Drink (Recipe + Health Benefits)

Sorrel (Hibiscus sabdariffa), also known as Jamaican hibiscus, flor de Jamaica or roselle, is one of my favourite drinks. This brightly coloured spiced beverage was traditionally consumed at Christmas, but it’s so delicious and nutritious that it’s now available commercially year round in Jamaican supermarkets and restaurants. However, sorrel is still consumed more often at Christmas and you’ll find that sorrel drink and fruitcake are the standard offerings to guests at Christmas in Jamaican homes. Thus, I thought it fitting to share our recipe and the nutritional benefits of sorrel with you all.

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Benefits of Drinking Sorrel

Sorrel calyxes and ginger

Sorrel is native to West Africa and India. In the 16th and early 17th centuries it was spread to the Caribbean and rest of Asia, where it has since become naturalized in many places. The stems are used for the production of bast fibre and the fresh or dried bright red cranberry-tasting calyces are steeped to make sorrel tea or drink. A calyx is the outer part of a flower which protects the young developing petals. Sorrel drink is popular in Jamaica, the wider Caribbean and West Africa. It is also one of several inexpensive beverages (aguas frescas) commonly consumed in Mexico and Central America.

Sorrel drink consumption has spanned several centuries. Over time, numerous health benefits have been discovered. Here are the most important health benefits of sorrel summarized below.

  • The high anthocyanin and antioxidant content of sorrel are thought to prevent the growth of cancer cells, and reduce inflammation by neutralizing free radicals in the body. This anti-inflammatory property may also prevent cardiovascular disease.
  • Sorrel may help to lower blood pressure. An 2015 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Hypertension showed a reduction in blood pressure of around 7.5/3.5 mmHg (systolic/diastolic) in the study group that consumed sorrel daily.
  • The high vitamin A content contributes to good vision.
  • Sorrel is a traditional African remedy for colds and flu. The high vitamin C in sorrel can help to boost the immune system.
  • Drinking sorrel tea a few days before your period starts can ease menstrual cramps. The extract from the leaf has also shown to help with menstruation problems.

Jamaican Sorrel Drink Recipe

From my kitchen to yours. Feel free to download this sorrel drink recipe card & share with a friend. Other herbs which may be added to sorrel include cinnamon, allspice (pimento) and bay leaf. In Lebanon, toasted pine nuts are sometimes added. In West Africa, mint leaves, dissolved menthol candy, and/or fruit flavors may also be added.

Did you know that dropping a few grains of rice into the bottles before adding the sorrel drink can speed up the fermentation process?

Wrap Up

Sorrel Ice Cream at Devon House

I feel blessed to have year round access to this delicious drink, but it feels even more special at Christmas. There’s delicious sorrel ice cream every December at Devon House. I also enjoy the Red Stripe sorrel flavoured beer which was released a few years ago. It’s quite popular locally but unfortunately has not yet been made available overseas. Do you love sorrel too? If you haven’t had it before, would you like to try it? Let me know in the comments below.


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‘Til next time.

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Published by

Rochelle | Adventuresfromelle

Adventures from Elle is a travel blog for locals & visitors who want to experience the best of Jamaica, one adventure at a time. The blog is curated by Rochelle Knight, a junior resident (M.D.) in internal medicine and published author. She began the blog in 2016 as a medical student & wants to see the world, starting with her home country. Purchase her book 'SIGHTSEE JAMAICA' on Amazon and join her in Jamaica!

33 thoughts on “Jamaican Sorrel Drink (Recipe + Health Benefits)

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