Dried Hibiscus flowers make a delicious and beautiful ruby-colored translucent tea. In other parts of the Arab world, it is known as karkady. At the traditional Baghdadi teahouses chaikhana, it is served along with the regular tea and coffee, but at a little higher price. Besides its delicious taste, it has other medicinal benefits. I have read that it helps women feel comfortable with their sexuality, particularly those who have suffered trauma in the past and are unable to express warmth and love (McIntyre, Flower Power, 42).
To make this exotic herbal tea, put about 1 tablespoon hibiscus flowers and a little hot water in a teapot to rinse the flowers and heat the pot. Pour off water quickly but leave hibiscus in the teapot. Add about 2 cups (475 ml) boiling water and let it brew very slowly for about 15 minutes. Serve with sugar to taste. This tea can also be served cold with ice-cubes.
Refreshing Summer Drinks
To make one glass of shineena, dilute plain yogurt with cold water, in the ratio of 1 part yogurt to 3 parts water. Add a pinch of salt. Whisk to create foam.
Serve immediately with a few cubes of ice. For a short cut, use buttermilk instead.
3 pounds (1.35 kg) cantaloupe or any sweet variety
1 cup (8 oz/ 225 g) granulated sugar, or to taste
About 3 cups (715 ml) cold water
½ cup (125 ml) fresh lemon or lime juice
Crushed or cubed ice
1 tablespoon rose water, optional
1. Remove skin and seeds from melon and cut it into 1 in./2.5 cm pieces. Puree with sugar in a blender or food processor, in batches, until completely smooth.
2. Pour mixture into a container and stir in cold water (you may use less if you prefer a more concentrated taste). Add lemon juice, and refrigerate.
To serve, stir in ice and rose water (if used), and pour into glasses.