I’m a big fan of hibiscus.  The showy, vibrant flowers are not only gorgeous to look at, but also make an amazing, zingy beverage.  Dried hibiscus flowers have a sweet-tart flavour and are responsible for the “zing” in zinger herbal tea blends.  

dried hibiscus flowers

Hibiscus is not only a popular herbal tea flavour, but also enjoyed internationally as a refreshing cool beverage.  In Western Africa, it is known as jus de bissap, in Egypt and Sudan as karkaday, and in Mexico it is a popular agua fresca known as agua de jamaica.  Hibiscus beverages are delicious and healthy as is, but if you want to add some more kick and nutrition to this zingy drink, you can turn it into a soda using milk kefir whey. 

 The beneficial bacteria and yeast found in the whey consume the sugars in the hibiscus juice and produce carbon dioxide.  Since this is a closed ferment, the CO2 is trapped within the container, producing a fizzy, refreshing drink! Hibiscus soda is delicious, refreshing and so easy to make!


Fermentation time: 4- 10 days


  • 8 cups (2L) water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup dried hibiscus flowers
  • 1 cup fresh whey (click here for directions to make whey)


  1. Bring water to a boil.  Add hibiscus flowers and simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Strain flowers from liquid. (flowers can be saved to add to kombucha for 2f flavouring)
Strain hibiscus flowers
  • Add sugar, stir to dissolve.  Let mixture cool to room temperature.
  • Add whey and transfer mixture to jar.  Close jar.
  • Leave to ferment, out of direct sunlight for 4-7 days.  
  • The mixture should start to bubble at day 3 or 4.  
  • Taste when mixture starts to bubble, and transfer to the refrigerator when you are happy with the level of tartness and flavour. 
  • Store in the refrigerator once the desired fizziness and taste has been reached.  You can leave the soda in the jar or transfer it to bottles designed to contain carbonated beverages.
  • bubbly hibiscus soda

    15 Responses

      1. I usually keep mine for about a week- even refrigerated, the soda will continue to slowly ferment. This will change the flavour and quality of the soda (become more sour and too fizzy)

    1. Hey, thanks for all you great recipees! Do I have to keep it in the refrigerator? How long can i keep it out of the fridge?

      1. Hi Faith- thanks for your interest and question. Yes, you do need to keep the soda refrigerated after fermentation. Refrigerating the soda will decelerate fermentation. The microbes will still be alive, but more sluggish. This will keep your soda at its optimal flavour and fizz. It also tastes better when chilled!

    2. Hi Jody,
      Would it be possible to use water kefir grains, or a small amount of water kefir instead of milk whey?
      Best regards

      1. Hi Desi- thanks for your interest and question. If you use water kefir, I would suggest using finished water kefir, and adding hibiscus tea as a flavouring. I am not sure if the hibiscus tea will have an adverse effect on the water kefir culture as I not used hibiscus flowers to make water kefir. You can try experimenting if you have surplus water kefir grains to spare. You can also make a ginger bug and add it to hibiscus tea:https://theculturedfoodie.com/ginger-bug-easy-starter-for-homemade-ginger-beer/

      2. I am doing this right now, using water kefir grains directly in my agua de jamaica, made using brown sugar (or piloncillo) at the concentration recommended for water kefir. After the second round of drinks, they still seem to be fermenting just fine, the grains have not changed size, although they are very dark purple in color now. They are producing a very nice beverage! Time will tell if they will tolerate the hibiscus and keep going. This seems to make a much less sour beverage than doing the lacto-fermentation, whey-based approach (which is also quite nice).

    3. Hello
      Can I use something else than whey from kefir to start it? Of if store bought kefir can do? I loooove hibiscus iced tea 🙂

      1. Hi Lulu- Thanks for you interest. The beauty of making your own fermented food and beverages is that you can control the content. Yes, there would be added carbs with the addition of sugar, however keep in mind that the sugar will be consumed by the microbes (wild yeast). The longer you leave the ferment, the more the sugar content will lower. I personally let my beverages ferment a little longer since I prefer my drinks more sour.

    4. If it’s fermenting in the bottle, should I be conserned about alcohol being produced?
      For my religious beliefs I cannot have any alcohol.

      1. Hi Sem- Thanks for your question. There is always a slight amount of alcohol produced during the fermentation process. I have not officially measured the alcohol content in hibiscus soda, however it is should be very negligible as it is a short ferment. I can also tell by the taste and feel no “alcohol”effect. My children also drink it, (my youngest is 10) with no ill effects. I’m not familiar with your religious beliefs, so you will have to determine if this drink is appropriate for you.

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