How can we describe the amazing taste of sorrel for you? It’s unique, unlike any drink we’ve had before…Maybe with the exception of Hibiscus tea. If you’ve had Hibiscus tea, you have a slight idea of what Sorrel drink tastes like, but definitely not a complete picture. The Roselle Hibiscus plant is what we use to make Sorrel drink, which is different from other varieties of Hibiscus.
Sorrel drink is easy to make! Simply boiled, prepared with sugar and spices, and steeped so it has a more rich flavorful taste. Then left to cool since it is drunk as a cold drink.
I was amazed to learn that this plant is used in many parts of the world in a variety of ways. Some steep and drink the calyces (pods), or turn it into a syrup or jam, others eat the leaves, or use parts of the plant for other non-food related purposes.
Traditionally, Sorrel drink is served during the holidays in the West Indies and various parts of the Caribbean. But that might be because the plant has a LONG growing cycle of around 6 months. It is cold sensitive, so you can probably only grow it outdoors in zones 7 and higher.
This past Thanksgiving, we harvested a large batch to make sorrel from the fresh roselle calyces (the pods seen here). We then dried the sepals for use throughout the year, and saved the seeds to plant again next year.
Where To Find Sorrel:
Wondering how to get sorrel if you don’t grow it? If you want to taste it first, look for a nearby Mexican restaurant that serves a drink called Jamaica. Yes, this a version of Sorrel drink. However, it may differ from restaurant to restaurant, since everyone spices it differently, but at least it’s a start. It is also better if it isn’t one of those “Sorrel flavored” syrups, which doesn’t quite capture the authentic taste.
Or you can go ahead and purchase dried Sorrel online via Amazon and make it to your own taste!
Making Different Flavor Profiles
Many countries have their own version (and name) for the drink. Which means you might it might be slightly different wherever you have it! It also means this recipe can be altered to your personal taste.
Comparatively, Jamaican’s add a lot more ginger and spices for a very bold drink. Personally I love the subtle hint of spice, like the Vincentians make it. I don’t like to overpower the unique Sorrel flavor.
How To Make Sorrel Drink – Tips
This recipe is compliments of my Mother-in-Law, who makes this for us every holiday!
They key is in taking time to steep the sorrel overnight. This helps make it more of drink and less of a tea. Some people boil it and drink right away to make a tea, which is significantly more diluted in flavor.
But if you are as impatient as I am, you can slow cook (boil on low) for several hours until it is a deep red color. It still has to cool, so prepare for this process to be easy, but take time.
Here is the recipe below:
St. Vincent Sorrel Drink
- 6-8 cups Dried Sorrel
- 16 cups Water
- 2 1/2 cups Sugar
- 2 tsp Almond essence
- 10 whole Cloves
- 1 oz Fresh ginger root (peeled and sliced)
Pour water into a large pot and add sorrel, ginger, and cloves.
Boil for five minutes.
Leave to steep overnight or for several hours.
When steeped and cooled, strain using a cheese cloth into a large container or pitcher.
Add sugar and almond essence and mix thoroughly.
Pour into a glass with ice, and enjoy!