The Sobolo drink also called Bissap or Roselle is a species of Hibiscus native to West Africa.  It is gradually taking over the local beverage industry in Ghana. Despite being around for centuries, this local drink for the past three years has gotten quite a bit of attention. Today, small-scale home-based businesses are tapping into this drink by bottling and selling it in all kinds of flavours.  Think of ginger, lemon, coconut water, pineapple etc.

I am on a quest to quit drinking soda pops or rather should I say ‘soft drinks’. Its no small task I must say. Coca-Cola is at the top of ‘ Soft Drinks to Stop Drinking’. If I can quite drinking coke, the rest should be easy. I think. I eat healthy as much as possible despite Ghanaian meals being so heavily starched. I have increased my protein intake and reduced my portions of rice, yam and all the other starch based foods. This has gone on for the past 5 years.

 

So I am doing all I can to replace ‘soft drinks’ with coconut water and sobolo. I should have made this change much earlier but nevertheless I am on a journey towards drinking healthier beverages. One step at a time.

A handful of Bissap leaves which is the main ingredient gives quite a large amount of juice when prepared. The leaves can be reused at least twice before disposal. Dont let the darkened color deceive you. The leaves are available in most local markets in Ghana. Just ask for Sobolo leaves but make sure you buy the whole leaves instead of the disintegrated ones which have other spices added in. 

 

There are several methods of preparing Sobolo. Many people boil the leaves which makes it a more zingy drink. I prefer the cold-brew method which gives it mild sensation and gives more insight into the other added ingredients.  It also looks like many people are boiling it for too long which rather kills in nutrients present in the ruby-red flower. Steeping in hot water or cold-brewing are much better in preserving the nutrients.

I made a pitcher full of sobolo today and thanks to the heat of the day I am almost through it. I mixed it with a handful of lemongrass for that extra natural flavor. 

Here’s how you can make your own Sobolo using the cold-brew method. 

  • Wash 2 cups of leaves to remove any dust or dirt but not for long as the color starts seeping out almost immediately.
  • Soak the bissap leaves in a bowl of water and place in the fridge for overnight brewing. 
  • The next day, strain the leaves into another bowl using a sieve. 
  • Scrounge up the lemongrass into five cups of water and boil. The water turns yellowish green when it is ready.
  • Add the lemongrass liquid to the bissap. You can also choose to add this in the night before in addition to the bissap leaves. 
  • Add ½ a cup of brown sugar and stir well.
  • Serve over a glass of iced cubes.

See how gorgeous it looks! Nature’s own KoolAid drink! 

I also made sobolo ice-cubes as well. These are just easy to pop into a glass of water for those of you who dont like drinking water. 🙂 

There are many health benefits of Sobolo.  Some haven’t been proven or are debatable such as in the treatment of hypertension and cancer . All in all it is such refreshing healthy drink and I cant wait to try other recipes using more spicy ingredients like ginger and peppercorns!

 

Which flavours do you like adding to your Sobolo if you have already tried to make your own?

 

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