Plantation Iced Tea

Sundays are for brunch, day baseball, family dinners... You're supposed to slow down, relax, and enjoy the last day of the weekend. Just like Freddie Mercury used to croon, "I'll be lazing on a Sunday afternoon."

Plantation Iced Tea is perfect for sit-back-and-relax drinking. Originally just a blend of fragrant black tea and tart pineapple juice, this version of the classic libation became popular at many Hawai'i restaurants. (I've actually never had it anywhere else.) Diamond Head Market & Grill's famous version even includes cinnamon and lemongrass. Served as a cocktail, "Pineapple Tea" at The Pineapple Room is infused with macadamia nuts, ginger and vanilla bean.  My Plantation Iced Tea is a simple blend of black tea, hibiscus tea, and pineapple juice! It's a sweet and tangy combination that will have you daydreaming of paradise in no time!

The hibiscus part of this recipe is actually inspired by a trip to a Mexican market, the first time that I ever encountered this ingredient. I came across an elderly woman selling spices and herbs with her young daughters, and the sign for the dried hibiscus flowers (also called "jamaica") immediately caught my eye. While these dark, curled up buds are used for a popular Mexican refreshment, agua fresca, I couldn't help but think of all the bright red, yellow, and pink hibiscus flowers that are all over the Hawaiian islands. The word "hibiscus" just makes me think of lush tropical gardens and Polynesian dancers with grand, over-sized blossoms tucked into their hair.

To make a tea out of these exotic flowers, simply bring a few cups of water and some sugar to a rolling boil, then steep a generous handful of dried hibiscus for a few minutes.

Quick embarrassing story: I had never used a clear tea kettle like this one before, so I was a nervous wreck while watching my water boil! I had this irrational fear that the heat would make it burst and shatter into a million pieces...But, as you can see, my water was successfully boiled without incident.

After steeping, strain the tea into a pitcher or punch bowl. (I recommend leaving that last bit of liquid inside the kettle. This prevents any of the sediment at the bottom from getting into your iced tea!)

The flavor of the hibiscus tea is amazingly refreshing, as is. With a naturally tart profile, it's reminiscent of cranberry and pomegranate.

The gorgeous crimson color isn't too shabby, either!

Although delicious and beautiful, hibiscus tea doesn't have enough of a...well...tea flavor. It definitely feels more like you're drinking a juice. So, to make this truly a Plantation Iced Tea, I added a couple of cups of brewed black tea. This particular variety is rich and robust.

Then, at last, the pineapple juice is poured in as well. The sweetness from the pineapple really balances out the sourness from the hibiscus and the earthy bitterness of the black tea. (A tropical variation of an Arnold Palmer.)

Brisk, refreshing...Plantation Iced Tea is a fitting beverage for a laid-back morning, afternoon, and evening. Enjoy it while lounging on the patio or soaking up the sun poolside. Then, have a glass in-hand while you watch the sun go down, as the Summer heat lingers in a haze. Aaah, the little things.

If you want to serve a crowd for parties, it's so easy to double (or even quadruple) this recipe to fill a couple of pitchers, a punch bowl, or a spouted beverage dispenser. This Plantation Iced Tea will have your guests yearning for an island breeze and a sandy seashore. Enjoy! :)

Plantation Iced Tea (approximately 2 quarts)

Print Recipe
6 cups Water
3/4 cup Sugar
1 cup Dried Hibiscus Flowers
2 Black Tea Bags
1 cup Pineapple Juice
  1. In a tea kettle or saucepan, bring the water to a rolling boil. 
  2. Combine 2 cups of the hot water and the 2 black tea bags in a separate bowl. Then, add the 3/4 cup of sugar and 1 cup of hibiscus to the remaining 4 cups of water in the kettle/saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar and to submerge the hibiscus. Steep the black tea bags for 3-4 minutes, and steep the hibiscus for 10 minutes. 
  3. After steeping, discard the tea bags and pour the the black tea into a pitcher. Strain the hibiscus tea through a fine mesh sieve into the same pitcher. Finally, pour in the pineapple juice. Stir to combine, then chill the tea mixture in the refrigerator.
  4. Serve over ice, and enjoy!