Sorrel, or hibiscus tea, is an infusion made from crimson or deep magenta-coloured calyces (sepals) of the Hibiscus sabdariffa flower. It is also referred to as roselle (another common name for the hibiscus flower) or rosella (Australian), flor de Jamaica in Latin America, karkadé in Jordan, Egypt and Sudan, Chai Kujarat in Iraq, Chai Torsh in Iran, gumamela in the Philippines, bissap, tsoborodo or wonjo in West Africa, sorrel in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, red sorrel in the wider Caribbean, and other names in other regions, including the U.S., where it is sometimes known as simply Jamaica. Hibiscus tea (sorrel) has a tart, cranberry-like flavor, and sugar is often added to sweeten the beverage. [Wikipedia]
Back in the days, the scent of sorrel mingled with spices coming from Mummy’s kitchen was always a clear indication that the season was definitely going to be merry and bright…bright red that is(on our lips and clothes)! Pounds of fresh sorrel were purchased at the market, they were “cleaned”(not an easy task), washed and steeped in boiling water and spices over night. Sorrel was made in large quantities and bottles were filled and sent to neighbors. This is one aspect of our culture that I miss the most, the tradition of exchanging “bottles” filled with sorrel or ponche a crème or Puncheon rum laced egg nog during the holidays(and other goodies too). These exchanges were done amidst lots of laughter and ole talk over wire fences that separated the houses. This is just one of the reasons they say Trini Christmas is de best!
4 – 5 ozs dried sorrel (about 3 cups)*** (2 ½ lbs fresh sorrel, uncleaned)
12 cups water (3 quarts)
2 sticks cinnamon
1 – 2 cups sugar, or to taste