Buy the Best Loose Leaf Hibiscus Tea

Loose Leaf Hibiscus Tea

The best loose leaf Hibiscus Tea, like Davidson's, is made of whole flower petals.

I love hibiscus tea, and for me, that means loose leaf tea. Loose leaf tea is all natural: just tea leaves. Or in this case, hibiscus flower petals. That way you get the pure taste of the hibiscus flower. I’m just not as big a fan of teabags, though they’re certainly useful when you’re on the move or at the office.

My favorite loose leaf hibiscus tea is Davidson’s organic hibiscus tea: gorgeous, fragrant flower petals for your tea, sold at a bulk price. And it’s organic, so you know it’s free from pesticides and other evils.

One bag will last you a long, long time. I usually do about three months with mine, but I drink a lot of hibiscus tea. Yours might last as long as six months or even more.

8 Reasons Why I Love Davidson’s Hibiscus Tea

  • pure flower petals for lots of taste
  • delicious, flowery, soothing fragrance
  • 100% hibiscus flower, no added ingredients
  • 100% certified organic tea
  • caffeine-free
  • relieves stress
  • can lower your blood pressure
  • full of natural vitamin C

Davidson’s hibiscus tea is a favorite with a lot of people, and not just my friends and family! I know that because of the amazing reviews on Amazon.

You wouldn’t expect a simple loose leaf tea to get that many great reviews, would you? For example:

“This is the best Hibiscus tea I tried. It contains whole hibiscus flowers, not dust and dirt like many bagged teas, and the taste is wonderful.”

“I’m not a huge fan of herbal tea, but the taste of this tea is OK, and it is a great value and easy to brew. What I really love about it, however, is that after drinking it for a couple of weeks, it has noticeably reduced my blood pressure. I try to drink two cups a day, and am hoping it will bring my numbers down even more with a little bit of time. Very happy to have found this natural remedy!”

The pure hibiscus tea is even in the top 3 of Davidson’s best selling teas, though they have more than 500 teas and tea products listed at Amazon.

I’m also a big fan of other Davidson’s teas, but I do think the hibiscus tea is best of all, because it’s also so good for you. It’s herbal, it’s full of Vitamin C, and there are studies that show that it can lower your blood pressure.

Plus, you can mix it with other teas to create your own blend. For example, I like to mix hibiscus and rooibos tea, hibiscus and rosehip tea, or hibiscus and cranberry tea together whenever I feel like a different flavor. This way, I make my own natural organic tea blends, without having to buy a gazillion flavored teas. And they taste better, too.

Buy Davidson’s pure organic hibiscus tea at Amazon


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How to Make Your Own Passion Tea

Tazo Passion Ice Tea

Passion ice tea from Starbucks -- really from Tazo!

I’m not a big coffee fan, so I don’t visit Starbucks all that often. But there are some Starbucks drinks I enjoy, and one of them is Iced Passion Tea. I love the hot version when it’s colder out, too.

The tea is herbal and mostly made from hibiscus flowers, which means it should have at least some of the blood pressure benefits of regular hibiscus tea.

These days, I only buy Passion tea when I’m traveling and need a quick, tasty drink. When I’m at home, I just make my own passion tea instead. It’s a lot cheaper than going to ‘bucks every day, and healthier, too.

So I thought I’d share with you how to make your own Passion tea, using the same ingredients.

I guarantee it will taste as good as the Starbucks one, and this way you can make it exactly to your taste.

Plus, you can also control the amount of sugar, which is the main drawback to the Starbucks version — a small (or a Tall in Starbucks language) Passion Tea contains only 60 calories, but those calories come from 15 grams of pure sugar. That’s a lot of sugar for an otherwise healthy drink.

Where to Buy Passion Tea Bags

The Passion ice tea isn’t actually produced by Starbucks. They use Tazo tea to make the infusion, and say as much on their website.

This is great, because you can buy the exact same Tazo tea that Starbucks uses, without going into a Starbucks store to pay their overinflated prices. (Yeah, I said it!)

Amazon sells a 6-pack of Tazo Passion tea bags for less than $30 — that’s a great price for 6 packs of 24 passion tea bags each, or a whopping 144 teabags in all.

This amount of tea should last you for months,  even in hot weather, and you’ll get tons and tons of iced tea and brewed tea out of it.

Passion Tea Ingredients

Tazo passion tea packaging

The main ingredient for Tazo passion tea: hibiscus flowers!

What ingredients does Tazo Passion tea have? I checked, because I’m particular about my tea, and I’m happy to say that they are all natural.

No artificial colors, weird chemical fruit flavors or E-numbers whatsoever.

Here’s the skinny, straight from the packaging:

  • Hibiscus flowers
  • Natural tropical flavors
  • Citric acid
  • Licorice root
  • Orange peel
  • Cinnamon
  • Rose hips
  • Lemongrass
  • Fruit juice extract

How to Make Passion Iced Tea

Making your own passion tea couldn’t be simpler. Here’s the recipe:

Hot passion tea recipe

  • Boil water on the stove, or in your hot water dispenser.
  • Use 2 Tazo passion tea bags for 12 oz of water, or 4 tea bags for up to 20 oz of water.
  • Put your tea bags in a tea pot or other container, like a big glass jug.
  • Pour the just-boiled water over the tea bags.
  • Let the tea steep for at least 10 minutes.
  • Add your own choice of sweetener to the tea: honey, sugar, or a no calorie sweetener like Splenda if you prefer.

You now have a strong passion tea, and it should be a beautiful red-pink color. You can drink this tea as is, if you like hot passion tea — or cool it down to make ice tea.

Iced passion tea recipe

  • Make the hot passion tea recipe above.
  • Taste the tea to check the level of sweetness, add more if you prefer a sweeter ice tea.
  • Let the tea cool.
  • Pour over  ice cubes and enjoy!
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

If you would like a sweeter tea that taste’s more like iced lemonade, you can add a splash of fruit syrup or lemonade syrup to the tea.

A great taste to try is raspberry syrup, which complements the hibiscus flavor and color really well.

Blackberry syrup also makes a fruitier, more lemonade-like tea.


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Make Perfect Tea with The Zojirushi Hot Water Dispenser: My Review

Zojirushi water boiler: perfect for tea

The amazing Zojirushi water boiler and dispenser: perfect tea every time

I first came across Zojirushi hot water dispensers on holiday in Japan. Every upscale hotel, apartment or ryokan seemed to have one of these machines.

They provided instant warm, hot or boiling hot water whenever I wanted, at the touch of a button. This meant I could make any kind of tea, or soup, or hot chocolate, or instant noodles, without having to wait for water to boil.

I found these hot water boilers incredibly useful – well designed, easy to use, and I loved the little melody they played when the water was at the right temperature.

So when I got back from holiday, I researched everything I could about Japanese hot water dispensers. I wanted one for my very own!

I soon found out that they are for sale in the U.S. as well: you can buy them from Amazon.

And I was relieved to find that in the US, the Japanese machines have buttons labeled in English and an easy to read English language instruction manual. I knew I had to own one, but it took me a while to figure out the best model for my needs.

My favorite: the Zojirushi CV-DSC40 VE hot water boiler

zojirushi hot water heater

Finally, I settled on the Zojirushi CV-DSC40 VE  stainless steel hybrid hot water boiler.

I took a long time figuring out all its features, so in this review I want to share why this is my favorite Zojirushi. I think any tea lover will want to own this amazing machine, and I’ll do my best to give you all the info you need.

In my research, I quickly decided that there was no need to look at other brands than Zojirushi.

I know there are knockoffs and rival brands out there, but Zojirushi was literally everywhere in Japan and was the clear front runner.

I already knew the Zojirushi brand from their fuzzy logic rice cookers, which are also the top of the line for the US as well as in Japan.

Plus, I just love how easy their machines are to operate. Basically, I didn’t want a knockoff; I wanted a well-made appliance that would last me for years and years.

While I was looking around online, I found out that there are many different models of Zojirushi hot water heaters.

They differ in size — some are so small that they aren’t that different from a western electric kettle, some are so big that you could use them to make soup for an orphanage. And there are different styles and features to choose from, too. This can make it hard to choose, but I hope this review will help with that.

You can do an online comparison of all the current Zojirushi hot water boiler models at the Zojirushi website.

For me, the biggest factor is whether or not they have a vacuum thermos feature, which I’ll discuss in more detail below.

Overview of the Zojirushi CV-DSC40 VE hybrid

Capacity:    1.05 gallon / 135 oz. / 4.0 liters
Dimensions:     8-3/4 inches wide, 11-1/8 inches deep, 13-7/8 inches high
Electrical Rating:    120 volts / 840 watts
Temperature Settings: 175°F, 195°F, 208°F and reboils to 212°F
Finish: Stainless Steel
Warranty: One year from date of purchase.
Price: list price is $230, but I have found this model for sale at Amazon for $150 to $200. Check the current Amazon price here.

Special Features:

  • 3 different temperature settings
  • control panel displays the actual water temperature
  • timer function, can be set from 6 to 10 hours
  • safety lock prevents accidents
  • clear, easy to read water-level gauge
  • 3-foot power cord
  • automatic safety shut-off
  • Cafe Drip slower dispensing mode, perfect for pour-over coffee
  • plays a sound or a melody when the water is at the right temperature or is running low
  • double walled stainless steel vacuum isolation keeps water hot at no energy cost

Save energy with the thermos feature

Zojirushi stainless steel double walled vacuum insulation

Double walled stainless steel vacuum insulation

So, I talked about how the thermos feature was the deciding factor for me in choosing this model. What is that, exactly?

Basically, the Zojirushi CV-DSC40 is so well insulated that it acts like a giant thermos or hot water bottle. That is why Zojirushi calls it a hybrid — it’s a thermos as well as an electric hot water kettle.

Double-walled vacuum insulation means that between the hot water and the outside of the tea dispenser are two walls of stainless steel. The space between these walls is vacuum-sealed.

Zojirushi uses exactly the same technology for their famous Mr Bento insulated lunch jars.

Just like a Mr Bento will keep food or drink warm for hours, the Zojirushi CV-DSC40 will keep the water warm for hours without using any electricity.

It will only use electricity for those few moments when the water needs to be brought back up to the preset temperature. And you can set a timer so you will have hot or boiling water exactly when you need it.

Most other Zojirushi hot water heaters don’t have this extra double-walled insulation. I think this is an essential feature — the standard model hot water heater is already energy efficient, but the extra insulation turns the Zojirushi CV-DSC40 into a real energy-saver.

Water capacity

This model’s water capacity is 4 liters. That’s a little over 1 gallon.

This may seem like a lot of hot water, but you go through it quickly, especially when you also use the hot water for cooking.

4 liters is perfect for me, and I think it would be perfect for any family from 2 up to 4 people.

It doesn’t take very long to heat up this amount of water, and you only have to refill the machine every two days. The water stays fresh and at the perfect temperature. And it’s easy to refill: open up the top of the machine and pour in water from a jug or even straight from the tap.

There is also a smaller 3 liter model hot water heater, the Zojirushi CD-WBC30, which would be perfect for single households. However, this model does not have the double-walled stainless steel insulation.

Temperature settings

Zojirushi hot water for tea temperatures

Multiple temperature settings = perfect tea!

The Zojirushi CV-DSC40 has three temperature settings: 175°F, 195°F, and 208°F. It also reboils at 212°F.

In other words, the water can be warm, hot, or boiling hot. If you drink a lot of tea, these settings are incredibly useful.

As you may know, green tea and oolong tea taste best when made with water that’s warm, but not boiling hot.

Boiling water often makes the tea bitter. For expensive high quality green tea, the water temperature should be even lower.

If you boil water on the stove or with an electric kettle, that means waiting for the water to cool down before you can make tea.

And then how do you know what the water temperature actually is? Usually you end up guessing, and the result is bitter tea or lukewarm tea. With the Zojirushi, you can make the perfect pot or cup of tea every time.

Which temperature setting should you use?

  • 212°F and 208°F: Use this setting for black tea, rooibos tea, instant noodles, instant coffee, pour-over coffee, instant hot chocolate, instant soup or oatmeal. You can also use this setting for cooking: prefill a pan with hot water for cooking pasta, rice, soup or vegetables. The water is boiling or very near boiling hot, so please be careful!
  • 195°F: Use this setting for oolong tea. Oolong tea is fermented green tea, and it falls between green and black tea where water temperature is concerned.
  • 175°F: Use this setting for green tea, white tea, pu erh tea, matcha tea, hibiscus tea, jasmine tea, or other herbal and flower teas.

Some other models of Zojirushi hot water boilers also have a 140°F setting: the Zojirushi CV-DSC40 does not.

I personally haven’t found this to be a problem, because 140°F is not very hot, and hence not very useful for cooking or making tea or coffee.

The only use I have found for this low temperature setting is for brewing very high grade, expensive Japanese green tea such as Gyokuro. This tea has such a delicate flavour that it will taste best brewed at 140°F.

However, if you drink such high quality green tea, you can still use the 175°F temperature setting. You can pour the hot water into a cold teapot or mug, and let it cool down for a minute before adding your high grade green tea, and it will be at the right temperature.

One thing is certain: your tea won’t taste bitter if you use the right Zojirushi setting to brew it, and if you let it steep for no more than 5 minutes before drinking.

Zojirushi hot water boiler steam vent safety instructions

The steam vent is a small slot at the back of the Zojirushi's lid.

Steam Vent Safety

When you’re boiling 4 liters of water, there’s going to be steam.

For safety’s sake, that steam had better go somewhere! That’s why there is a steam vent on top of the Zojirushi hot water machine.

This does mean that you will need to be careful about where you position your hot water dispenser. If you place it directly beneath a kitchen cabinet, the steam could cause the underside of the cabinet to warp.

However, the Zojirushi makers have cleverly placed the machine on a lazy-susan device, which means you can easily spin the whole unit round until the steam can safely escape.

Looks and Finish

Looks aren’t everything, but I do think they matter, especially for an appliance that you’re going to be using multiple times every day.

This is another reason why I like the Zojirushi CV-DSC40: it has a stainless steel finish.

I find this much more sleek and professional looking than the white and light-coloured plastic exteriors that some other models have. Stainless steel is also very easy to wipe off, and almost impossible to stain.

Using the Timer Setting

The timer is a very handy feature. It’s easy to set, and it is another energy saver: by setting the timer, you turn off the heater until the time you need hot water.

You can set the timer for anywhere between 6 and 10 hours in advance.

If you set it at night for 8 hours, for example, the heater will turn itself off at night. In the morning it will turn itself on, and provide you with hot water just when you need it for your breakfast tea, coffee, or even oatmeal.

Maintenance and Cleaning

If you live in an area with hard water, and you use tap water for your Zojirushi, you will eventually find calcium buildup in your machine. This is easy to remove.

Zojirushi makes their own brand of calcium remover for their hot water heaters. The cleaning product is made from citric acid.

The interior of the hot water boiler has a non-stick coating over the stainless steel, so the acid will not harm your machine. Every 3 months or so, you can use this product to descale your machine. If you run out of citric acid, you could also use concentrated lemon juice.

You may prefer to use filtered water instead to prevent calcium buildup.

If you only use filtered water with your machine, for example by pouring it from a filtered Brita pitcher, you may never need to descale it at all, or perhaps only once every few years.

To clean the outside of the machine, simply wipe with a clean cloth. The stainless steel finish ensures that dirt comes off easily.

Safety Features

Zojirushi hot water boiler safety lock

You press two buttons before hot water comes out. This prevents accidents and spillage.

The Zojirushi has a number of safety features to prevent accidents like spilling hot water.

You can tell that their design team have thought a lot about possible accidents and ways to prevent them.

The safety features are well designed, and I find them all very useful:

  • A sensor shuts off the boiler if the tank is empty. That means it can never boil dry.
  • The boiler also stops working if the lid is left open. This provides additional security: no clouds of steam in your kitchen because you forgot to close the lid.
  • When the machine is running low on water and needs to be refilled, it will play a beep or a melody. In other words, you won’t suddenly run out of hot water.
  • The power cord is magnetic. If someone tugs or yanks at it, it will disconnect. This means the machine won’t fall or tip over.
  • The body of the hot water heater  is insulated, so the outside is cool to the touch.
  • Getting hot water requires you to press two buttons: first the Unlock button and then the Dispense button. Only then will hot water come out. That means it is impossible to press a wrong button and spill hot water. This safety lock feature is especially great when you have children.

User Reviews and Ratings for the Zojirushi CV-DSC40

As you might expect, the Zojirushi CV-DSC40 has a ton of reviews on Amazon.

The reviews are very positive. Here are a few quotes I pulled more or less at random:

“If you drink tea or would use boiling water on a daily basis, this is a staple for your kitchen.”

“I especially recommend it if you’re a Macha tea fan, as it makes the process remarkably fast and easy!”

“I was a bit concerned at first because of the price. However, I use this daily for breakfast cereal, hot tea, and at least a gallon of iced tea. It is in use for at least 16 hours – often being refilled multiple times. In summary, it has been a complete joy.”

“I’ve had this boiler for almost 2 years now and it still works and looks like new.”

“We use this with a Chemex all-glass coffee maker. Set it before we go to sleep each night and it heats up to perfect brewing temperature before we wake up. 8 O’Clock Coffee ($4 a pound from BJs) done this way tastes better than the hundreds of dollars worth of Starbucks and Peets that we used to brew with the old drip coffee maker.”

The Zojirushi CV-DSC40 also has a 4.5 out of 5 star rating on Amazon.

Where to Buy the Zojirushi CV-DSC40 VE?

As I mentioned earlier, the official list price for the Zojirushi CV-DSC40 is $230.

However, I have found that Amazon usually sells this model for $150 to $200. You’re not likely to find it any cheaper elsewhere!

That’s why I would recommend buying from Amazon, since they also have great customer service.

Buy the  Zojirushi CV-DSC40 VE Hybrid from Amazon

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Eating Hibiscus Flowers Like Candy

Okay, this is just too cute not to share.

This is Alfie, a tiny sloth from Costa Rica, and he’s devouring a hibiscus flower like it’s the best thing in the world.  The sloths eat hibiscus flowers like candy.

Of course, now you may be wondering, do the flowers taste as good to humans? We know they are delicious when dried and used for hibiscus tea. But fresh flowers?

Yep, you can eat hibiscus flowers raw.

Or suck out the sweet nectar from the flower hearts. Eat First Think Later has neat pictures on how to find the sweet nectar at the bottom of the flower.



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Spribiscus: the Perfect Summer Drink

Delicious refreshing Spribiscus!

Delicious refreshing Spribiscus!

I never heard of this until today, but there is a drink out there called Spribiscus. Isn’t that a great name?

I think this is maybe a Southern thing. Or at least a Texas thing, because I found it listed on this menu for a café in Austin, TX. Makes sense, you need creative recipes for cool drinks in really hot weather.

Anyway, you can probably guess what Spribiscus is made out of, just from the name.

It’s hibiscus ice tea and Sprite, mixed together.

I had to try this out for myself, so I bought some Sprite to test this recipe.

I made my usual strong hibiscus tea from dried hibiscus flowers, let it steep, let it cool, then poured it into a glass I’d half-filled with Sprite and ice.

(If you want to know how to make hibiscus ice tea, you can find the recipe here.)

Love the taste!

Turns out Spribiscus is a really, really nice variation on basic iced hibiscus tea.

You get the fruity, flowery taste of the hibiscus, combined with a refreshing hint of citrus and nice bubbles from the Sprite.

Add lots of ice…ahhh.

As far as I’m concerned, Spribiscus is my new favorite summer drink.


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Filed under How To Steep Tea, Loose Leaf Hibiscus Tea, Tea Recipes

How to Make a Hibiscus Tea Rinse for Your Hair

Sometimes it feels like a waste to use foodstuffs for non food purposes. Like an avocado face mask, a cucumber eye treatment, or a tea rinse for your hair.

Still, the hibiscus tea rinse I’m going to talk about is worth a small guilty feeling.

It’s also a great way to use up hibiscus tea that’s gone cold in the tea pot, or has steeped too long. And in that case, no need for guilt!

What Can Hibiscus Tea Do for Your Hair?

As you know if you’ve ever made hibiscus tea, the tea itself is a ruby-red, and it leaves stains if you happen to spill any.

It can also leave red color in your hair — if your hair is light enough, and if the hibiscus tea you use for the rinse is strong enough.

It’s not like a regular hair dye; don’t expect the kind of spectacular, long-lasting results you would get from unadulterated henna. After you wash your hair a couple of times, the hibiscus stain will go away.

But then, that’s also the charm of this rinse. You can try it out without worrying that it will actually dye your hair without any way to remove the color, the way henna does.

Herbal Conditioner

Several dark-haired people on the Long Hair Forum who have tried a hibiscus tea rinse have reported that it didn’t add color to their hair at all.

Instead, the tea gave their hair extra softness and shine, the kind you get from a really good conditioner.  So it’s worth trying, just for that, I think.

Hibiscus Tea Rinse Recipe

  • Make hibiscus tea from tea bags or loose tea leaves, following this recipe.
  • Do not remove the tea bags or tea infuser from the tea!
  • Instead, let the tea steep for a much longer time, at least 1 hour, but you can leave it as long as 24 hours. It won’t spoil.
  • Take out the tea bags or leaves, and pour the tea into a glass container that’s easy to pour from. Don’t use plastic, or it will stain!
  • When you take a shower, wash your hair with your usual shampoo and conditioner. Then pour the hibiscus tea rinse over your hair.
  • Leave the hibiscus rinse in your hair and let it dry naturally.

If you try this herbal rinse, please let me know in the comments or via email how it works out for you! I’d love to add some photos and make a ‘before and after’ series.


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3 of My Favorite Herbal Tea Mixes

I realize you probably came to this website looking for hibiscus tea, but on the other hand, maybe you’re already a hibiscus tea fan and are looking for some variety, just like me!

I love almost all kinds of tea, especially herbal and flower teas, and I’m always looking for new brands and new tastes to try out.

These are three of my favorite herbal tea mixes. Not all of them are caffeine free, but I have marked each so you won’t buy the wrong thing by mistake. I’ve also added steeping instructions.

1. Davidson’s Earl Grey Tea with Lavender

Davidson’s has the best loose leaf tea bar none, as far as I’m concerned, and their bulk prices are great too.

Davidsons Earl Grey Lavender Tea This Earl Grey loose leaf tea is the classic English black tea infused with bergamot, but what’s special about it is the added lavender flowers. They give the tea a flowery note and a delicious scent. It’s a perfect afternoon tea, and it goes well with high tea, cake or cookies.

How to Steep Earl Grey Lavender Tea:

  • Put a teaspoon of tea into a tea pot or preferably, a tea infuser.
  • Pour 1 pint or more of boiling water over the tea and into the pot.
  • Cover the cup or pot and steep for 5 minutes.
  • Remove tea infuser.

Note: this tea contains caffeine. It’s also a strong black tea; don’t overbrew it and let it get bitter!

Buy Davidson’s Earl Grey Lavender Tea at Amazon

2. Traditional Medicinals Organic Raspberry Leaf Herbal Tea

These tea bags contain 100% organic raspberry leaves. So, technically, this is not a mix, but I love it so much that I wanted to include it.

Traditional Medicinals Organic Raspberry Leaf Tea Raspberry leaf is a special tea that is, I’m not kidding, a godsend to women. I’m not saying men can’t drink it, but they won’t get the benefit of its special properties!

For hundreds of years, women have used raspberry tea to help alleviate menstrual cramps and labor pains and strengthen the uterus. And best of all, it tastes great, not at all medicinal. In fact it reminds me of black tea, even though it’s caffeine free. You could drink this with a bit of honey, but it’s tasty enough to drink plain.

How to Steep Raspberry Leaf Tea:

  • Put the raspberry leaf tea bag in a tea cup or pot.
  • If you’re using a larger tea pot, put two tea bags into the pot.
  • Single tea cup: pour 1 cup of boiling water over the tea bag and into the tea cup.
  • Full tea pot: pour 1 pint of boiling water over the tea bag and into the pot.
  • Cover the cup or pot and steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Gently squeeze tea bag to get the last bits of raspberry goodness out.
  • Remove tea bag.

Note: this tea is caffeine free.

The manufacturer of this tea, Traditional Medicinals, recommends drinking 3 to 4 cups between meals.

Buy Traditional Medicinals Raspberry Leaf Tea from Amazon

3. Davidson’s Herbal Cranberry Orange Tea

I know, I know, it’s another Davidson’s tea. But they are so good!

Davidson's Cranberry Orange Tea This mix of flowers and fruits is perfect if you want to drink a healthy herbal tea that’s full of Vitamin C. The tea contains organic cranberries, chamomile, rooibos, rosehips, hibiscus and orange peel, with sweet orange essence for extra flavor.

As a fellow enthusiast wrote on Amazon,

“You can feel a touch of sourness of the cranberries and hibiscus flowers, the refreshing taste of the orange peels, and the pleasant taste of the camomile.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself. You can also combine this tea with pure hibiscus tea if you want to make a tea that’s a little fruitier and sweeter than plain hibiscus, but still has all the wonderful health benefits of hibiscus tea.

How to Steep Cranberry Orange Tea:

  • Put a teaspoon of tea into a tea pot or preferably, a tea infuser.
  • Pour 1 pint or more of boiling water over the tea and into the pot.
  • Cover the cup or pot and steep for 5 minutes.
  • Remove tea infuser.

Note: this tea is caffeine free.

Buy Davidson’s Cranberry Orange Tea from Amazon

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Finally, a Tea Infuser That Actually Works

Tea Ball Instructions, photo by GEOpdx

How to use a tea ball without a teapot. Or perhaps they're making soup with it?

Isn’t it crazy how irritating some little things in life can be?

Because I love food and cooking, a lot of those little things happen in the kitchen.

Like a dull knife that dents a tomato instead of cutting it. Or a can opener that only opens half the can and then quits.

Or a tea ball that suddenly pops open and drops loose hibiscus tea leaves all over my kitchen floor.

When The Ball Breaks

Oh man, those tea balls. (Also known as tea infusers.)

When they work correctly, they are just great. They let you steep loose tea without any of the mess of loose leaves floating around in your teapot.

If you haven’t used them before, here’s how it works: you put the tea in the tea ball, make the tea, and take out the ball when the tea has steeped long enough.

This way you avoid over-brewing the tea. Then you open the tea ball over the trash can and dump out the used leaves without creating a mess in your sink. A quick rinse under the tap and you’re done.

The basic, stainless steel mesh tea ball I used to buy worked just fine…for about a month, or maybe two.

Then the cheaply soldered clasp would break, and I’d have another useless little ball of steel mesh to throw out. And buy a new one. Sure, they only cost a couple bucks, but who wants to buy a new tea infuser every other month? That’s like buying new teacups every month because the old ones keep breaking when you look at them wrong.

A Tea Infuser That Won’t Break

Luckily, one day I found a steel mesh tea infuser that I won’t have to throw out. Because it doesn’t break!

There’s no cheap soldered-on clasp and hinge, just a twist lock that is part of the infuser itself.

I got mine a year and a half ago, and I’ve bought three more in different sizes for friends and family. All are still working perfectly. This is the Twist-Lock Tea Infuser, and I recommend it highly.

Three Sizes

The Twist-Lock Tea Infuser tea ball comes in three sizes, and none of them are small: they run from Large to Extra Large to Jumbo.

I love this, because a lot of the tea balls you can buy are too small. They’re maybe an inch in diameter, and that means there is no room for the tea to expand inside.

Why Size Matters

Tea needs room! Many people don’t realize that you’re not supposed to fill a tea ball to the brim. The more room there is left inside, the better. That’s why large tea balls are so useful. You never need to fill them more than halfway.

When your tea infuser is half full, the full flavor and fragrance releases because the tea leaves have room to expand.

This doesn’t happen when they’re trapped and compacted in a tiny ball. And with tea that has large leaves, or herbal teas, this is especially important. For hibiscus tea made from hibiscus flowers, you absolutely need a large tea infuser.

A handy rule here is: get the largest size tea infuser that will still fit inside your teapot.

To figure out which size to get, look at the diameter of the tea infuser, then measure the diameter of your teapot opening.

The diameter of the teapot’s opening should be at least half an inch larger than the diameter of the tea infuser! That way it can’t get stuck, and you can easily drop the infuser into the pot.

Large Size Steel Mesh Tea InfuserLarge Twist-Lock Tea Infuser
Diameter: 3 inches
Height: 2.5 inches
Length of the chain: 8 inches

Extra Large Twist-Lock Tea Infuser
Diameter: 4.25 inches
Height: 3.5 inches
Length of the chain: 7 inches

Jumbo Size Steel Mesh Tea InfuserJumbo Size Twist-Lock Tea Infuser
Diameter: 5 inches
Height: 4 inches
Length of the chain: 7 inches

5 Reasons Why I Love These Tea Infusers

  • simple, effective twist-lock closure that won’t break or snap off
  • doesn’t come open inside the teapot
  • larger size means more room for tea to expand
  • durable steel and steel mesh construction
  • extremely easy to clean

Creative Ways to Use a Tea Ball

You can use these large tea balls for other things than making tea.

I haven’t tried it myself, but some people use them to make soup. Really!

Put herbs and spices like laurel leaves, parsley and peppercorns in the tea ball, then drop it into the pan. As the soup simmers, the herbs and spices infuse it with flavor, and it’s easy to take out the tea ball when the soup is ready to eat. Much better than fishing around for soggy leaves with a fork.

You can also use the infuser to steep fragrant herbs or flowers in your bath without creating a mess in your bathtub. And I have heard you can even use them to brew beer.

Where to Buy Twist-Lock Tea Infusers

You can buy these twist-lock tea infusers at Amazon, where they have great reviews:


Filed under How To Steep Tea, Tea accessories

My Favorite Flower Teas: Hibiscus, Jasmine, and Chamomile

I’ve always had a fondness for flower teas, even before I discovered that many of them are also good for your health.

Tea made from flowers just smells so good. And it doesn’t contain any caffeine, so you don’t risk getting headaches or insomnia from drinking oceans of tea all day.

My favorites are Hibiscus Tea, Jasmine Tea, and Chamomile Tea. These are great tastes to try, even if you’ve never stepped beyond basic black or green tea. They are refreshing, flowery and delicately delicious, as well as good for you.

Flowering tea

Flowering tea in a glass teapot

Flowering tea in a glass teapot

If you are looking for a more exotic flower tea, or for a special tea to give as a present, I highly recommend flowering teas.

Flowering teas are made from tea leaves and flower leaves that are tied together in a beautiful flower shape. The tea flower opens when hot water is poured on top, and it looks as though the flower is blooming.

This tea is best drunk in a glass teapot, so you can see the tea flower expand.

Hibiscus Tea

Red hibiscus flower, photo by Thomas Tolkien

Pure hibiscus tea is harder to find in stores than most other flower teas; that was actually a big reason for building this site.

I always recommend pure loose leaf hibiscus tea first, because it’s 100% flowers with nothing else added, but there are also some good tea bags to be found.

Jasmine Tea

Jasmine flowers, photo by KpjasI always think Jasmine tea is the princess among teas. Or maybe that’s just because of the Aladdin movie.

All kidding aside, this tea is special. It has a very delicate aroma and taste, and is so fragrant.

It’s usually composed of green tea mixed with jasmine flowers; I’ve never seen pure jasmine flower tea, I imagine that would be very costly.

One thing is very important: don’t use boiling water when you make jasmine tea. That is, you can boil it first, but then just let it cool down a little before you pour it over the tea. Otherwise the tea can turn bitter, and that’s a shame. Jasmine tea should not be bitter at all, just flowery and delicious.

  • Taste: Just like jasmine flowers smell; gentle, flowery, a little bit sweet.
  • Health Benefits: Green tea is an antioxidant, and many people also drink it to help them lose weight.
  • Which Jasmine Tea To Buy: Rishi organic loose leaf jasmine tea is the best we have found. The leaves are very fine, and hand rolled into small ‘pearls’ that unfold as the tea steeps. It looks, smells and tastes beautiful. If you’d prefer tea bags, we advise Davidson’s jasmine flower tea bags.

Chamomile tea

Chamomile flower, photo by lithfinChamomile tea is the only one of these three teas that may be a bit of an acquired taste; I love it, but some of my friends don’t.

Sometimes they like chamomile tea when it’s mixed with something else, rather than by itself. And the funny thing is, the taste and scent aren’t all that strong; a little bit like new-mown hay.

Like hibiscus tea, chamomile tea is composed of 100% flowers. You can pick your own chamomile flowers and dry them, if you’re lucky enough to live in an area where they grow, and voilà, you have chamomile tea. But it’s also an inexpensive tea to buy.

  • Taste: Grassy, a bit like new-mown hay or straw.
  • Health Benefits: Chamomile tea is well-known as a relaxing, soothing tea. Drink it before bedtime if you have trouble sleeping, or any time when you need a moment to calm yourself. It also has other benefits;  some people  swear it lessens menstrual cramps, for example, and chamomile is also said to strenghten the immune system.
  • Which Chamomile Tea To Buy: Once again I recommend Davidson’s excellent organic loose leaf chamomile tea in bulk. And if you’d rather have tea bags, go for Twinings pure camomile herbal tea bags.

I hope very much that you’ll enjoy these flower teas. And if you have other favorites, please let me know in the comments!


Filed under Herbal Flower Teas

How To Make Hibiscus Ice Tea

Hibiscus Ice Tea (photo: texascooking)

A big pitcher of ruby-red Hibiscus Ice Tea is incredibly refreshing when it's hot.

I love to drink hibiscus tea as a hot drink when it’s cold out, but in summer, I prefer hibiscus ice tea. It’s refreshing and cool, it looks beautiful, and has a flowery, slightly tart, delicious taste and aroma. I think it tastes much better than plain ice tea made from tea bags.

When I serve this ice tea for the first time, people often think it’s lemonade or a cocktail or some kind of fruit punch — the jewel-like, deep red color of hibiscus doesn’t make anyone think of tea! Then they taste it, and fall in love. I honestly haven’t met anyone who doesn’t love hibiscus ice tea. The only difference is that some people like it sweeter than others. Personally, I like the tart refreshing taste of hibiscus tea, and I don’t want to overwhelm it with sweetness, so I let people who like sweet tea add honey to their taste.

Here’s how I make hibiscus ice tea, two ways: a simple recipe for hibiscus ice tea and a fancy recipe with added spices and garnish. The fancy ice tea is what I usually make for company.

One important tip: the deep red of hibiscus stains easily, so take care not to use plastic lemonade pitchers or anything that will stain. Glass pitchers and metal saucepans are fine.

Simple Hibiscus Ice Tea Recipe

(serves 6)

6 cups cold water
1/2 cup hibiscus flower tea leaves
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups ice

  • Bring water to a light simmer in a large saucepan.
  • Add the hibiscus flower tea to the water, then simmer for 5 minutes over moderate heat. Remove saucepan from heat.
  • Cover the saucepan and let it steep for half an hour.
  • Pour the liquid into a pitcher through a sieve. Discard the flowers.
  • Add sugar and ice, and stir until all the sugar has dissolved.
  • Chill the tea and serve in a glass when it’s cool enough.

Fancy Hibiscus Ice Tea Recipe

(serves 6)

6 cups cold water
1/2 cup hibiscus flower tea leaves
3 cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups ice
fresh mint leaves
orange slices
lime slices

  • Bring water to a light simmer in a large saucepan.
  • Add the hibiscus flower tea, the cinnamon sticks and a handful of fresh mint leaves to the water, then simmer for 5 minutes over moderate heat. Remove saucepan from heat.
  • Cover the saucepan and let it steep for half an hour.
  • Pour the tea into a pitcher through a sieve. Discard flowers and spices.
  • Add sugar and ice, and stir until all the sugar has dissolved.
  • Chill the tea.
  • When it’s cool enough, serve in a tall glass with a long spoon. Garnish the glass with one orange and one lime slice, and set out a pot of honey so people can sweeten the ice tea to their taste. You can also add extra sprigs of fresh mint leaves.

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Filed under Tea Recipes

How To Steep Hibiscus Tea

Steeped Hibiscus Tea is a lovely red color. Photo by Izik.

Steeped Hibiscus Tea is a lovely ruby-red color.

Here are my instructions on how to steep hibiscus tea leaves and tea bags. Follow my lead and you’re guaranteed a wonderfully fragrant hot tea that’s not too strong or too tart.

Please note: these are my instructions for hot hibiscus tea, not ice tea.

How To Steep Hibiscus Loose Leaf Tea

  • Heat fresh water to a rolling boil. (Filtered water optional.)
  • If you’re using a teapot: put 1 tablespoon of hibiscus loose leaf tea into a large tea ball or directly into your teapot.
  • If you’re using a mug: put 1 teaspoon of hibiscus loose leaf tea into mug.
  • Pour boiling water into teapot or mug.
  • Close teapot, or cover mug, and wait for 5 to 7 minutes. If you like your tea very strong, wait for 10 minutes then stir.
  • Remove the tea ball if you’re using one.
  • You now have a beautifully red hibiscus tea that’s ready to drink!
  • Natural hibiscus has a tart taste, a bit like cranberries. For a touch of sweetness, add a tablespoon of honey.

How To Steep Hibiscus Teabags

  • Heat fresh water to a rolling boil. (Filtered water optional.)
  • Put 1 hibiscus teabag in teapot or tea mug.
  • Pour boiling water into teapot or tea mug.
  • Close teapot, or cover mug, and wait for 5 minutes.
  • Remove the teabag.
  • If your hibiscus tea is a rich, beautiful red, that means it’s ready to drink!
  • If you’d like your tea a little sweeter, add a tablespoon of honey.


Filed under How To Steep Tea