Traditional Zobo Drink / Hibiscus Punch Recipe (Egyptian Karkade)

The first time I tasted Zobo Drink was several years ago in Bauchi, a state in the Northern part of Nigeria. I had been visiting friends and after a rather sumptuous meal, a pitcher with a characteristic red drink was passed around. I was immediately struck by the tart taste of the drink, which was complemented by the sweetness. I later ascertained this punch was called Zobo.


I ran into Zobo again - during my travels to Egypt. During a spa treatment at one of the resorts at Sharm el Sheikh, I was offered a complementary Zobo drink - only this time it was called Karkade. Enjoyed around the world, Zobo goes by several names - Bissap in Senegal, Sorrel in the Caribbean, Omutete in Namibia and Wonjo in the Gamiba.

Zobo is a very refreshing drink which can be drunk either hot or cold. Made from hibiscus leaves (sorrel leaves), the drink is packed with antioxidants (more than greeen tea) and allegedly lowers blood pressure (although scientific evidence of this is lacking). 


Most of the purchased versions of Zobo I have drunk have been sweetened, largely with sugar, but I prefer when making the punch for my own consumption to have it unsweetened for the health (un) benefits of sugar. To complement the tartness, I use cinnamon - which has a natural sweetness to it - which I find very sapid. But I guess enjoying an unsweetened Zobo is something of an acquired taste.

The key to this drink lies in the quality of the hibiscus flowers which the drink is made from. The potency and depth of flavour from high-quality hibiscus leaves is simply unrivalled. In this regard, I am lucky to live in Switzerland where quality is a tradition. If in doubt of the quality, try and obtain your leaves from a specialist or a health food store.

This is a very simple recipe which requires only 3 ingredients; hibiscus leaves, cinnamon stick, honey and water, and will leave you filling your glass more than once!





50g of high-quality organic dried hibiscus flowers

1 litre of water

2 cinnamon sticks

1 tablespoon of honey (optional)


If your leaves are not organic and clean, then clean them first, removing all impurities from the flowers, then give it a quick rinse. Otherwise, skip this step.

Bring 1 litre of water to a boil. Add the leaves and allow to boil for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, take the pot off the heat and allow the drink to brew for 15 minutes.

Using a fine strainer, carefully decant the drink through the strainer and into a pitcher.

Allow the drink to cool, and then add the tablespoon of honey. Stir thoroughly.

You can enjoy with some ice and slices of lemon

Nutritional Info

Calories - 19, Total Fat - 0.1g, Protein - 0.3g, Carbohydrate - 4.6g

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