A refreshing summer drink which is a combination of two drinks we enjoy: Basil Lemonade and Agua de Jamaica. The basil lemonade in itself is wonderful and a great way to use basil leaves instead of just making them into pesto sauce. Agua de Jamaica, a popular non-alcoholic Mexican “iced tea” drink is made from flor de jamaica or hibiscus flowers.
Agua de jamaica
- 1 cup dried hibiscus
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups basil syrup (recipe below)
- 1 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 cups ice cubes
- 2 cups water
- 4 cups fresh basil packed (top half part of a bunch)
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups sugar or 1 cup sugar substitute
- 9 strips of lemon zest (about 4 inches long)
- First make the agua de jamaica by rinsing and draining the hibiscus flowers in a colander. Put in a saucepan with water. Stir and bring to a slow boil, lower heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Let the liquid cool, then strain it into a pitcher, discarding the flowers. Set aside. (At this point, you can add more water and sugar to taste and you can enjoy the typical Agua de Jamaica drinks served in Mexican restaurants.)
- To make basil lemonade, make the basil syrup first by bringing all ingredients to a boil in a medium pan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Let stand at room temperature for about an hour and then transfer to an airtight container. Strain syrup through a sieve or strainer, pressing on leaves and lemon peel before discarding. (This syrup will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days covered.)
- In a large pitcher, stir togethere agua de jamaica, basil syrup, lemon juice and water. Pour into individual glasses with ice cubes and garnish with basil leaves and lemon zest. You can adjust the sweetness by adding more or less sugar or sugar substitute.