It's a ruby-red beverage with a tart lemon flavor and it's made from the flowers of a semitropical plant. Although commonly called hibiscus tea, it's actually a tisane -- a beverage made from steeping dried flowers, leaves or other parts of a plant in boiling water. Hibiscus may have health effects and can interact with some medications, so if you drink it frequently, consult your doctor.
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Hibiscus plants can be one of 40 different species, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Some of these, such as Hibiscus sabdariffa L., have edible calyxes that can be dried and used for tea. Also known as roselle, red sorrel and flor de Jamaica, Hibiscus sabdariffa L. is the hibiscus most commonly used for tea and is used in many areas of the world, according to a March 2013 article in “Fitoterapia.” Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, an ancestor of the modern hibiscus plant, is also used for tea, according to the Hidden Valley Hibiscus website. Hidden Valley Hibiscus notes that most parts of hibiscus plants are edible and that the flowers make a sweeter tea, while the leaves make a tea that is more astringent.