Flor de Jamaica

André Baranowski

Agua de jamaica, a refreshing drink popular on both sides of the Texas-Mexico border (click here for recipe), gets its deep red color and tangy, floral flavor from the flower of a common garden plant: hibiscus. Called jamaica (pronounced ha-MY-kuh) in Spanish, the shrubby plant thrives in subtropical climates. Its flowers are often dried and boiled in sugar water to make a syrup that's used in drinks, jams, and even Red Zinger tea. Dried hibiscus flowers are usually sold as "flor de jamaica" in Latin American markets and in health food stores.