Making Africa’s Sobolo drink (bissap drink)
Sobolo is many things to many people. For some it is the drink that starves off prostate cancer and comes packed with anti-oxidants. For others, sobolo is simply a tasty and flavourful African drink that is often served at functions and events. The names for Sobolo across Africa and elsewhere is just as plentiful as the myriad reasons for drinking it. In Nigeria it goes by the name Zobo, Chibemba in Zambia, Bissap in Congo, Benin, Senegal and other francophone African countries and Womjo in Gambia. In Arabic speaking Africa sobolo is known as karkaday and in Latin America Flor de Jamaica. Others simply refer to it as hibiscus tea. In some parts of Africa, notably Senegal, Jus de Bissap (Beesap) is as popular as Coka Cola is in America. It is sold chilled as a street drink by enthusiastic vendors in the hot sun.
There is some commonality to the making of Sobolo though. It is made by steeping dried hibiscus flowers in hot water and adding some sugar and ginger as well as a couple of other optional ingredients such as cinnamon, grains of paradise, vanilla, mint and cloves. It is not unusual to mix Sobolo, depending on preferred taste, with some juice of some sort – orange, pineapple or lemon juice. Some especially in the Caribbean make an alcoholic version that adds rum to the mix.