I first encountered this drink in the Yucatan province of Mexico. It was called “Jamaica” and I loved how refreshing it was on a hot day. It was available at almost every restaurant and I drank it at every chance. Although it’s a tea, it tastes more like a juice. Jamaica is pronounced “Ha-mike-ah” and the name of the drink comes from the Spanish word for hibiscus, Flor de Jamaica (flower of Jamaica).
I was so excited come across this drink again in Laos. We were eating lunch at the Vang Vieng Organic Farm and they served us some of this juice. Since then, we’ve discovered that one of James’ co-workers grows this flower on her small farm. So now we have access to an unlimited supply! The Lao name for this drink is “nam som podee” – which means “sour juice, just right”. Some people also call it “nam krajiab” which is the Thai name.
Just so you know, although we call this hibiscus tea in English, it is only made from one kind of hibiscus and it’s not the kind people grow in their gardens. If you want to buy some of this kind of hibiscus, look for “flor de Jamaica” at a Latino grocery store.
If you’re in Laos, ask for “dok krajiab” at a fresh market in Vientiane or at the Vang Vieng Organic Farm.
- 20 grams (about 1 cup) dried hibiscus flowers (flor de Jamaica)
- 1 liter water
- 5 T sugar
- 1 or 2 T lime juice (optional)
- Add the dried flowers to boiling water and simmer for 5 minutes
- Strain the flowers out of the tea
- Add the sugar and lime juice, stir
- Chill and serve over ice