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Hibiscus Tea: Benefits, Risks, and Uses

Hibiscus tea is a ruby red-colored beverage made from the hibiscus plant, also known as Hibiscus Sabdariffa. The hibiscus plant is grown mostly in subtropical and tropical regions and is native to India and Malaysia.

Tea made from the hibiscus plant has been used in traditional medicine for generations. Hibiscus tea is also known as roselle or sour tea. It is rich in protective plant compounds that may help decrease inflammation, lower your blood pressure, and give autoimmune support.

Hibiscus tea is a rich source of antioxidants, compounds that protect against cellular damage by neutralizing free radicals. It contains several antioxidants that protect cells from illness, including vitamin C, carotenoids, and anthocyanins.

Oxidative stress occurs when free radicals overwhelm antioxidants in the body. It triggers inflammation and tissue damage, which can cause several health conditions, including certain cancers.

Studies show that consuming foods and drinks rich in antioxidants, such as the compounds found in hibiscus tea, effectively lowers your risk of health conditions like heart disease and breast cancer by reducing inflammation.

In a study, researchers found that hibiscus supplements and tea lowered blood pressure in participants with and without high blood pressure. One study found that the decline in blood pressure associated with hibiscus is nearly the same as the effect of blood pressure-lowering medications.

Researchers also found that hibiscus treatments significantly reduced levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the main cholesterol in your body responsible for high cholesterol. They also found that hibiscus tea worked much more effectively than other types of tea in lowering blood pressure.

Reducing high blood pressure and high levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol can positively influence heart health and prevent you from developing heart disease and other cardiovascular health conditions like heart attacks.

Adding more anti-inflammatory foods and drinks into your diet could help reduce markers of inflammation, like C-reactive protein (CRP), a protein produced by your liver that increases when you experience inflammation.

Chronic inflammation is considered one of the main causes of health conditions like heart disease, certain cancers, and cognitive decline.

A small study found that men who consumed 250 milliliters (mL) of a drink made with hibiscus extract experienced more reductions in their CRP levels when compared to participants who only consumed water. Other studies suggest that hibiscus tea may also protect against nerve cell inflammation.

Some evidence suggests that certain compounds found in hibiscus tea, like polyphenols and organic acids, may improve your insulin sensitivity. Insulin is a hormone that moves blood sugar, or glucose, throughout the body for energy.

Studies show that hibiscus tea treatments can significantly reduce elevated blood sugar levels in adults. This makes unsweetened hibiscus tea an ideal beverage for those with elevated blood sugar levels, prediabetes, or diabetes.

Nutrients found in the hibiscus plant may vary depending on the brand of hibiscus tea or supplements you consume.

An estimated amount of nutrients based on 100 grams (g) of the hibiscus plant includes:

  • Calories: 0 cal
  • Protein: 2.68 g
  • Carbohydrates: 0.89 g
  • Calcium: 67 milligrams (mg)
  • Iron: 1.21 mg, about 7-15% of the Daily Value (DV), depending on age and biological sex
  • Sodium: 379 mg

While hibiscus tea is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, when the hibiscus plant is consumed as a tea, it’s not full of as many vitamins and minerals as it has in its raw form. However, hibiscus tea does have traces of iron, calcium, and vitamin C.

Hibiscus tea is calorie-free, unlike other beverages that may be high in sugar, like juices and sodas. The lack of sugar in hibiscus tea helps the drink to feel more filling. Drinking unsweetened zero-calorie beverages, in general, can help you maintain a healthy weight for your body.

Hibiscus tea is considered safe for most people. Studies show that drinking up to 24 ounces (oz) of hibiscus tea daily for up to six weeks is safe and not associated with side effects.

Though rare, some people may experience mild side effects such as an upset stomach, gas, and constipation after drinking hibiscus tea.

While hibiscus tea isn’t linked to health concerns in the general population, pregnant and people who breastfeed should avoid drinking hibiscus tea as it may trigger menstruation and harm breastfeeding babies. Hibiscus tea shouldn’t be given to children under 12 as it may not be safe for younger kids.

Also, avoid consuming hibiscus tea within two weeks of scheduled surgery, as it may be more difficult to manage your blood sugar during surgery.

If you take blood pressure medications, you should check with your healthcare provider before consuming hibiscus tea.

Hibiscus tea is available in several forms, including tea bags and looseleaf tea. It is known for its tartness, which is why it is also called sour tea. You can sweeten your tea with honey or monk fruit if you prefer a sweeter taste.

When preparing hibiscus tea, consider how strong you want the flavor. If you desire a stronger flavor, try placing your hibiscus tea in water for seven minutes or longer. If you’d like a weaker tea, check whether you are satisfied with the flavor after a few minutes or less than seven minutes.

Hibiscus tea is naturally free from caffeine, so it can be enjoyed at any time of the day. Some people enjoy hibiscus tea as a breakfast to drink right before sleep. It can also be enjoyed hot or cold.

Hibiscus tea is a ruby red-colored tea full of protective plant compounds that help you to fight inflammation and prevent high blood pressure. You can enjoy it iced or hot at any time of the day since it is both calorie and caffeine-free.

Consult your healthcare provider before drinking hibiscus tea if you are also taking blood sugar-lowering medications.

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