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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Homemade (Roselle) Rose Cordial

Rosella, or roselle are what some call the Ribena Flower. The whole thing is actually a fruit, not a flower. What seemed to be the petals are not petals, but the calyx or sepal. It used to be a flower, but the flower was pollinated and the petals dropped off, leaving behind the enlarged calyces surrounding a seed pod (the fruits). The seed pod isn’t used here, but can be used to make jam because it contains pectin, which is a thickening agent for jams. The part that is used to derive flavour and colour is the calyx.

I have long wanted to use Roselle as a natural food colouring, and sometimes it’s hard to bump into them. It’s not every time when I go to the morning market, that I’ll see them. And this time, I saw lots of it. I bought almost1 kg of it. Don’t think it’s very little, I can use a 7L pot and keep all of them in. Don’t worry about getting lots, they keep very well, chilled. So well, that I saw one of it sprouting. I gave that sprouting one to Lydia’s nanny as she wanted to plant roselle.

Air sirap ros, or Rose Syrup, is a popular local drink, especially amongst the Malays. But this drink is always heavily dyed with food colouring, and flavoured artificially.

So, if you are a great fan of this drink, here’s how to do it, naturally and safe. Roselle is used to provide the red colour and dried rose buds are used to flavour the drink. Nothing artificial and  it's safe enough to feed this to my 2 girls. Hey, did you know that Roselle is a good source of anthocyanin, a type of antioxidant. The same type of antioxidants in blueberries and red cabbages. So drink lots of this if you want to antioxidize : )
Psst,** It’s so much cheaper than blueberries, hahaha!!

And here's some health benefits of rose tea(not roselle) that I copied from madhealth
•It clears toxins and heat from the body. As a result it has a cooling effect on the body.
•It can relieve from sore throat, runny nose and blocked bronchial tubes
•It is useful to people those prone to chest problems by fighting against infections
•Rose tea helps to fight the infection in the digestive tract and re-establish the normal bacterial population of the intestines
•It relieves fluid retention and hastens the elimination of wastes through kidneys
•It is a wonderful remedy for dysentery, diarrhea and gastro enteritis
•It is a laxative. It works as a remedy for all liver problems including sluggishness and constipation.
•It cleanses the liver and gall bladder and promotes bile flow
•Rose petal tea can be used to relieve uterine congestion causing pain and heavy periods. It is an excellent remedy for irregular periods and infertility.
•It has an uplifting effect on the nervous system and can relieve insomnia, depression and fatigue

This is the method for just a few servings
I recommend, for every 1 cup of water,1 roselle and 2-3 rose buds be used.

To make 2 servings, I used
500ml water
2 roselles
6 dried rose buds (French rose, I got mine from Legend of Tea, Kinta City, Ipoh)
Sugar to taste

1. Wash roselles well under running water to remove sand and dirt.
2. Pluck off the calyx, leaving behind only the seed pod.
3. Put the calyces into a saucepan with 2 cups of water.
4. Bring a to a boil and lower to a simmer for 10 min or until the calyces turn pale and the water is red in colour.
5. Turn off the heat and put in rose buds. Let it steep for 5 minutes.
6. Pour and strain infusion.
7. Sweeten with sugar and serve.

If you want to make a cordial concentrate that you can keep, just use 20 roselles with 1L water and 500gm sugar and 40-50 rose buds. Boil roselle calyces, sugar and water together and lower to a simmer for 15 mins or until the water is heavily coloured, then turn off heat to infuse with rose buds. Strain and keep in clean bottles. Keep chilled. When you feel like drinking, just mix some of the concentrate with water, just like regular Rose Syrup. No need to boil each time.

The roselle is slightly tangy but once you sweeten it, it’s fine. I’ve used rose buds from China before, and I‘ve got to say that the flavor and fragrance is quite disappointing. China’s rose is slightly darker in colour, deeper pink and French rose is light pink in colour. And it’s definitely perfect in this drink, taste and smells almost like the F&N rose cordial, of which is my fav brand of rose cordial. I'm not sure if the real name for the rose is "French Rose", cos I can't google for any, but it's very light pink in colour and more expensive compared to the darker pink version.


  1. It's definitely a healthier drink than rose syrup.

  2. Wendy, I think my colleague cooked this drink for me b4, taste great! may b I shd get some and boil for my daughter.

  3. Busygran,
    This is rose syrup, I did put in rose :)
    Just coloured it with roselle

  4. Jess,
    You can try this with or without the rose buds.
    Plain roselle is nice too.
    Just that I wmeanted to try to recreate the bottled rose cordial to see if homemade ones taste similiar w/o artificial stuff

  5. I've never seen those roselles before, so pretty!

  6. pigpig,
    It only became popular here few years back, if you left Msia long ago, you wouldn't have known about this.

  7. I imagine the taste is sour like Ribena...?

  8. Oh, I love rose tea! I used to frequent tea houses in KL before getting married and those ppl there said they wouldn't recommend too much of rose tea to children coz it's too "cooling"...I don't know, maybe it depends on how's one's reaction to it individually.
    For myself, I find I can't drink too much in a day (I made 1 big tumbler and drank it the whole day at school) By the end of the day, I found my heart beat faster than usual and I felt sick.
    Aiyah, really missed your gathering la, if not I'll have roselles to plant too! :(

  9. The drink itself is so pretty red! Bet it taste so much better then those store bought ones. Wonder if I can get dried roselles here in Singapore.

  10. What can I do with the seed pod usually since you bought so many and only use the calyx for this tea?


  11. HomeKreation,
    W/o the rose, it taste a bit like ribena, but once the rose buds are infused, it taste like sirap ros F&N.

  12. Mel,
    I just give them one cup a day, like ribena, but diluted one la.
    Lydia like ti w/o rose, and only pure roselle.

    I think there will be dried ones in Spore.

    I dried some of them, and the seeds on them popped out and I gave them away for planting.
    You can use the fresh pods to make jam, cos they contain pectin

  13. Hi, do u know where i can get fresh roselle. I need it for my mum, her blood pressure is high. Thank you so much.

  14. Anonymous,
    1. I do not know where you are from, it's hard for me to answer you.
    2. I got mine from Pasar Pagi in my town.


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