I was served my first taste of Karkade ( a hibscus soda) from a theatrically dressed street vendor on a blisteringly hot afternoon in Damascus, Syria. He was sporting a pair of black slacks, a colourful waste coat, a comedic cowboy hat topped with the ubiquitous fez and had the largest shiniest teapot, I had ever seen strapped to his back. It was a cavalier, but considered outfit which successfully captured the attention of busy passing hoards in the packed downtown streets. I stopped in my tracks and watch him serving other intrigued passers by before approaching inquisitively to quench my thirst. He poured a glass of deep red cordial, it was tangy with a fruity floral cranberry like flavour, delicately sweetened and perfumed with a couple of drops of rosewater. Its deliciously refreshing served over ice and soothing and uplifting served hot with a stick of cinnamon on a cold winters night.




Less than 30 minutes plus extra time for steeping


Super Easy


40g dried hibiscus flowers

1800ml cold water or sparkling water

150g sugar or to taste

1 teaspoon rosewater (optional)


Bring the water to the boil. Take off the heat and add the hibiscus and sugar and leave to steep for a minimum of 15 minutes before straining. If you prefer a more intense fruity infusion leave the hibiscus to steep until the liquid is cool.

When cool add the rosewater.

Chill in the fridge and serve over ice or re-heat and add a stick of cinnamon.

Recipe by James Walters, self-taught chef and founder of Arabica.