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Trend Alert: Hibiscus Drinks

Last June, I discovered the sweet virtue of dried hibiscus flowers. I picked them up at Trader Joe's and, on a whim, stirred them into a pitcher of lemonade. The hibiscus lent a sweet, tart flavor, as well as a beautiful blush color.

Perhaps by putting hibiscus flowers into that pitcher of sparkling ade, I was onto something: Hibiscus, with its fruity, tannic flavor, has been appearing in all sorts of beverages, from sparkling sodas to hot cocktails.

I've seen Ooba, a sparkling hibiscus soda, everywhere from this year's Fancy Foods Show to the drink aisle at the local Whole Foods Market. On her new show, Giada at Home, Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis entertained with a spiked hibiscus tea, made by boiling dried hibiscus in sugar water, straining out the flowers, and mixing in lemon juice and vodka. Both beverages, with their punchy pink color and notes of cranberry flavor, are drinks that would satisfy on a hot Summer day.

Not that hibiscus is only to be enjoyed during Summer. This month, Bon Appétit proclaims Winter cocktail The Laureate to be the "new hot toddy." In the mix? Añejo tequila, agave nectar, and — you guessed it — dried hibiscus flowers, which add "a bit of tartness and a rich ruby red color."

Can you see hibiscus drinks being a trend that really takes off? Have you enjoyed any hibiscus-flavored beverages lately?

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