Although Hibiscus sabdariffa grows in the wild, it has since been domesticated in very many parts of the world especially here in Uganda.
Hibiscus beverage which is a product of its cured flowers, is one of the most common and highly ranked herbal products that are used in Uganda and across the world. This is because of the various nutritional and healing properties that are contained in the leaves, flowers and seeds of the hibiscus plant.
Why hibiscus beverage?
Regina Nakayenga, started planting hibiscus 10 years ago. She is the CEO at Rena Beverage Solutions where they add value to the wonder crop churning out several products such as hibiscus tea, roasted hibi seeds, hibi soft drink and hibi powder.
According to Nakayenga, hibiscus tea is doing well on the market because of its amazing health benefits such as; its ability to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, disturbed digestive and immune system, and inflammatory problems as well. “It helps cure liver diseases and reduces the risk of cancer. It can also speed up the metabolism and help in healthy, gradual weight loss,” says Nakayenga.
Cured hibiscus tea
Dried hibiscus flowers are used to make hibiscus tea by adding boiled water to the flowers, says Michael Ssango a hibiscus farmer in Kayunga. This can be taken when hot or in its cold form to treat a number of digestive problems like bloating as well as treating menstrual cramps.
It contains vitamins A, B and C, copper, zinc, iron, protein and omega-3 essential fatty acids. “Hibiscus tea, has among other benefits been known to lower high blood pressure and boosts liver health,” Ssango adds. The good amount of iron is useful in fighting anaemia, the antioxidants are good for the skin too.
“Local investors should be supported so that the hibiscus tea industry can register accelerated growth for farmers to get good income,” says Nakayenga. She notes that Japan is among the leading markets of purple tea (hibiscus), where products such as slimming tea are made and sold in North America, South America, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia and Africa among others.
“Purple tea is more potent than green tea. The Japanese and Chinese have discovered its health benefits and are buying in huge quantities the little that is being produced. Recently, the Japanese discovered a new antioxidant in purple tea that is not in any other tea. We, thus, expect demand to rise,” she explains.
Hibiscus is the trending plant because the leaves, seeds and flowers are on market currently and various people in the local market, supermarkets as well as clinics and pharmacies demand for their products every day. There is not even a season when people do not demand for hibiscus and in the local market, dried hibiscus flowers are usually packed in white polythene papers and a pack goes for about Shs1,000.
You can also add value to the hibiscus flowers to make wine.
Taking tea brewed from hibiscus flowers is unusual, and that’s what makes this business stand out. “Our goal was to make it easier for people to enjoy tea,” she says. Today, hibiscus tea is not only sold in supermarkets such as Capital Shoppers, Mega-Standard but also in major pharmacies such as, Vine Pharmacy and Devine Pharmacy, among others. A 500 grammes container of hibiscus tea costs about Shs20,000 if bought from a supermarkets.