It is so very hot here - nearly breaking a 100 year-old record. Today the heat index is forecast to be 102. We have also had half as much rain as we normally do so far in October. AND the owner of our empty lot garden has turned off the water. So. Only the hardiest of heat-loving plants are surviving.
One of these is "Roselle" aka Jamaican Sorrel or Hibiscus sabdariffa, among other things. It is a beautiful plant - red stems and calyces, dark green leaves, lovely yellow hibiscus flowers with pink centers. In the past we have harvested these in the late fall and early winter, but these are already producing the prized calyces (stress?) and so we are picking them now.
These calyces - the base of the flower - are the source of a famous Jamaican holiday drink called "Jamaica" (pronounced huh-my-cuh). There are a number of recipes for this but all involve boiling the sepals (removed from the calyx) for 10 minutes or so and adding spices and sugar (and often rum). Here's a typical recipe; you can google to find others.
We made a lighter drink by removing the sepals from about 40 calyxes and boiling in a quart of water for ten minutes, straining the sepals out, adding sugar (quite a bit) and then another quart of cold water. It makes a nice tea, reminiscent of Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger. Very pretty and delicious over ice. A nice island treat for this extended summer we are having.