Widely consumed in Africa, Asia and South America, bissap juice is a red-colored drink with a particular flavor.
Nicknamed by some as the elixir of kings , this drink has enormous virtues for the body. Its benefits are both nutritious and therapeutic.
No wonder everyone, especially in Africa, loves it. It is a drink that not only tastes good, but is also ideal for the well-being of our organism.
We invite you to discover the many benefits of bissap juice for your health.
General presentation of the bissap plant
Before discovering the many virtues of bissap juice for our body, let’s first do a little recap on the bissap plant.
History of the bissap plant
Hibiscus sabdariffa (the flower of the bissap plant) comes from Southeast Asia. It was not until the 19th century that it was imported to the African continent.
The sun and the heat that reigns on this continent have made it a favorable growing environment for the plant.
These are, in fact, the two major conditions necessary for its growth. Its leaves are also used for the preparation of many dishes.
Also called Guinea sorrel or roselle, the hibiscus sabdariffa plant can grow up to 3m in height and at least 2m in width. Its paper-like flowers contain a bright red calyx within them.
Although the whole flower can be used to prepare the drink, it is the calyx that is generally used. Traditionally, it is women who harvest it.
Bissap juice is alcohol-free. As a result, it is consumed by all and on all occasions.
Bissap is the Wolof (a language of Senegal) name for the infusion of hibiscus sabdariffa flowers . But bissap juice is also present in several other countries.
Here are some of its most popular names in the world: foléré (Cameroon), dableni (Mali, Ivory Coast or Burkina), zobo (Nigeria), Ngai Ngai (Congo), currant country (Antilles), karakandji ( Central African Republic), karkadé (Egypt), agua de Jamaica (Mexico), pink tea, Empire tea, drink of the pharaohs, etc.
The different traditional uses of the bissap plant
Nothing is left unused in the hibiscus sabdariffa plant. The whole plant is used for various purposes.
The leaves are used for the preparation of sauce, to give it a slightly sour and acid flavor.
The stems , for their part, are used to produce fibers, while the roots are used as a natural remedy in many pharmacopoeias.
Today, the hibiscus flower is not only used as a base for drinks, but it is also used:
- In cooking in the form of puree or sauce (Cameroon, Congo-Kinshasa, Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, etc.).
- In jam.
- In cosmetics, in particular mixed with henna to bring shine and a certain color to the hair.
- In food coloring, to replace chemical dyes.
- To make shoes shine, especially in Asia where it is known as “the shoe flower”.
- As an offering: the flowers are offered to the goddess Kali in India so that she grants wishes…
What are the benefits of bissap?
Since ancient Egypt, hibiscus infusions have been used as a remedy for fever, insomnia, restlessness and as an aphrodisiac .
Today, they are still used in many traditional medicines because of the multiple benefits of the plant.
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the bissap plant
The hibiscus sabdariffa flower is rich in anthocyanins (natural pigments to which the flower owes its beautiful red color).
They are powerful antioxidant agents from the polyphenol family.
These antioxidant agents make it possible to fight against oxidative stress and thus protect the body’s cells against the effect of free radicals, molecules which cause premature aging of cells.
At the same time, they prevent the development of certain diseases linked to aging such as cancers, Parkinson’s disease, cirrhosis, Alzheimer’s syndrome , etc.
Studies are also underway to study the effect of hibiscus on cancers, especially stomach cancer and leukemia. It must be said that the results are rather promising.
Hibiscus also has inflammatory properties thanks to which it helps to treat coughs, angina, colds, flu, rhinitis and all inflammations of the upper respiratory tract .
The benefits for digestion and heart health
The bissap juice or hibiscus sabdariffa juice is an excellent digestive .
Indeed, it facilitates intestinal transit and helps fight against almost all mild disorders related to digestion.
In addition, several studies have highlighted the hypotensive properties of bissap , making it capable of intervening in the fight against arterial hypertension .
These studies have also made it possible to discover protective properties for the heart .
In a study carried out in 2013, a significant drop in blood pressure was observed in people with diabetes and hypertension after 4 weeks of consuming 3 glasses of bissap per day.
Benefits for skin and hair
Bissap is an enormous reserve of vitamins. It contains iron , calcium , vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin C and niacin ( vitamin B3 ).
Bissap juice is therefore also excellent for the skin .
Indeed, the presence of these vitamins will stimulate the production of collagen , which will slow down the aging of the skin .
In addition, infused hibiscus flowers are an ideal treatment for combating skin problems such as eczema .
You can drink it as you can apply it on your body by putting it on your hands.
But that’s not all ! Even for your hair, the hibiscus flower can do wonders. Its powder, mixed with your hair care, can help you fight lice and dandruff.
It is also an excellent hair growth stimulant . Find in this article recipes based on bissap to grow your hair.
How to prepare bissap juice?
The recipe for the preparation of bissap juice is quick and very easy to make. There are also different ways to prepare it.
Here we have three recipes for you.
Recipe 1: simple bissap juice
As ingredients, you will need one and a half liters of water, 100 g of dried hibiscus flowers and 50 g of sugar.
Some other ingredients can be added according to suitability to bring more flavors: mint, ginger, etc.
For the preparation of the drink, here are the steps to follow:
- In a saucepan, boil the water.
- Add the flowers to the water and let everything boil for about 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat, allow to cool, then strain.
- Add the sugar and an aromatic ingredient of your choice and it’s ready!
- All that remains is to serve it and drink it chilled.
Recipe 2: Senegalese bissap
This is one of the most popular bissap juice recipes. Here are the ingredients you will need: 3 liters of water, powdered sugar, 7 to 12 good tablespoons of dried hibiscus flowers (according to suitability).
You can also add certain aromatic ingredients such as dried mint, organic orange blossom, dried ginger or even a pinch of nutmeg.
- Boil water in a saucepan.
- Put the hibiscus once in the water and cook over very low heat for about 5 minutes.
- The past 5 minutes, turn off the heat and let the leaves infuse until completely cooled.
- Filter the bissap.
- Add the sugar and the aromatic elements according to your tastes.
- Serve as fresh.
Recipe 3: Alain Passard’s bissap
Alain Passard is the owner of L’Arpège, a 3-star Parisian restaurant of which he is also the chef. He has developed a recipe for bissap juice, the process of which is as follows:
- Pour 1 liter of mineral water into a large saucepan.
- Add 50 g caster sugar, ½ cinnamon stick, 1 clove, the zest of ¼ lemon, 3 black peppercorns, the zest of ¼ orange, ½ vanilla pod with the seeds.
- Add 60 g of dried hibiscus flowers.
- Heat everything over low heat.
- Remove from heat as soon as bubbles begin to appear and let infuse for 2 hours.
- Strain once cooled and serve chilled.
A few precautions regarding the consumption of bissap juice
Although bissap juice is safe for health, precautionary principle, its consumption is however not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women and for young children .
The bissap juice consumed in normal dosage, has no adverse effects on the body.
And contrary to what many believe, it does not affect the quality of sleep in any way.
The infusion of hibiscus flower could be dangerous for the liver if it is really consumed in excess.
But the dose has to be extremely high, which is very rare. The risks of liver disease are therefore almost insignificant.
Where to buy good bissap?
The bissap plant is quite widespread and not difficult to find.
In markets and supermarkets you can find some to try one of the recipes mentioned above.
You can also create your own recipe. You just need to vary the ingredients according to your preferences.
In addition, several shops market the hibiscus flower online. So, all you have to do is go online to order.