Here are some hibiscus flowers still attached to their plant.
The flowers are washed before being processed.
A close-up of one of the flowers.
The red sepals are separated from the flower.
The other important ingredient of the hibiscus beverage is ginger.
Ginger is smashed before being added to the drink.
The sepals are boiled. Almost immediately, the water turns red.
Once boiled and later cooled, the hibiscus drink is ready to be served.
Sorrel, known in Panama as saril and as Jamaica in other Latin American countries, is a drink made with the sepals of the flower produced by a bush known as Hibiscus sabdariffa. It is technically a tea, however, in many countries is drank with ice or at least very cold.
This drink arrived in Panama during the building of the canal, together with Caribbean laborers. While still strongly associated with the Afrocaribbean community of Panama, it is now enjoyed by Panamanians of all ethnicities due to its refreshing flavor and its link with Christmas, due to the fact that the plant flowers in December.
The procedure for making the saril drink is simple. After collecting the flowers, the bright red sepals are separated and put into boiling water. Smashed ginger and sugar are then added to the mix and sometimes other ingredients such as cinnamom and cloves. After a few minutes, the water turns red and the drink is ready. In Panama, the custom is to drink it very cold. However, in other countries is commonly drank hot, as a tea.
In addition to being a very popular element in Panama's heritage gastronomy and enjoyed as such, saril is known for its medicinal effects such as combating hypertension and serving as a diuretic.
In Panama, saril is commonly found in areas with heavy Afrocaribbean presence such as Rio Abajo, Juan Diaz, Colon and Bocas del Toro.