Mrs. Mango’s Hibiscus Flower Tea
By Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime
It has been thirty years, almost to the day since Bill and I packed up the car with our dog and cat and made the drive from Columbus Mississippi down into Florida to make it our new home. We’d been down there before, as tourists, but I never really paid attention to the people there and how they lived, so on the drive, I wondered what life would be like.
Our home would be in Satellite Beach, since Bill was going to be working on the military side of the Eastern Test Range, which you guys know as Kennedy Space Center where NASA does it’s launches. All of that is under the control of Space Command, a section of the Air Force.
Most of our stomping ground there was between Melbourne and Cocoa and we lived in between. One of the places we found to shop there was over in Rockledge near an orange grove. It was a little shack called Mrs. Mango’s that sold herbs, teas, and a few antiques along with the orange blossom honey she produced (remember, she was right next to an orange grove, so how advantageous!). The place looked like it might fall into the ground at any moment, like something that had weathered a hurricane, but never really repaired. I liked it because it had antiques, which I collect, and also the owner, Anneke Langendonk (immigrated to the USA from the Netherlands), specialized in herbs, botanicals and tea. And since I’d been doing a lot of work with dried botanicals as a floral designer, it interested me. And Anneke, being an herbalist who found not much in the way of herbs and herbal practitioners here in the USA, found her own niche on the side of Rte. 1.
One of the nice things Anneke did was to serve visitors with cups of her hibiscus flower tea. And my young daughter also enjoyed the windmill cookies the she set out for customers. It made an emotional attachment for my daughter, and for me as well, as I used to have a little miniature tea set as a small child and as part of serving tea, windmill cookies were often part of it.
Of course, over the years, we moved away. I’ve heard Anneke passed away in 2013, but her daughter and granddaughter now run the shop (which amazingly) still stands there along the highway for passers-by.
Today I am sharing a version of her Hibiscus Flower Tea, which can be served hot or iced (along with windmill cookies of course!), but this is not about me, or Mrs. Mango or tea, except to sit together and sip it while we discuss what must be done.
In my entire life I have never seen so many hurricanes befall the United States and our Caribbean territories. It was the year before we’d moved down to Florida that I watched Hurricane Gilbert, a category 5 storm, bear down on Jamaica. I was safe up in northern Mississippi with the comfort of seeing it from the television, with my cup of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee in hand. Jamaica was devastated. The coffee plantations with my favorite java beans destroyed. It would take years to get the coffee plants producing again.
And here we are, watching Texas flooded. US Virgin Islands turned into a moonscape. Florida ravaged and flooded, even in parts that did not expect it (like Jacksonville). And now Puerto Rico. People died. You know they say get out, it’s just stuff that can be replaced. But some people could not get out. Seniors in nursing homes, without power or the power to leave, falling under the sweltering heat.
It’s hard for me to imagine any of the things people are going through right now. Places where it doesn’t matter if you had insurance because the entire infrastructure has been destroyed. Places where hope was torn away in 150mph winds.
My food blogging friends and I want to bring more attention to the charities that are available to help these people in at least some small way. So we are blogging about Florida foods (for me it’s Mrs. Mango’s teas, which is a special Florida memory for me).
I hope that some of you will at least consider donating to some charity listed below. It doesn’t have to be a lot. You know, a storm is made up of many raindrops. Just one has no impact, but you can see what happens when many raindrops coalesce into a single force. All of our small dollars combined can be the counter action to the deadly storms.
It’s going to take time to restore the hope and faith those affected have in their daily lives, not to mention the water, electricity, food, medical supplies, roads, power lines, jobs, peaceful sleep. The storms have passed. New ones form. But we hold steady in our fortitude against it, hand in hand with our fellow humankind. We hope for recovery, and we remember what must be done. We do our part.
Time may pass, storms may come and go, but hope and memory always remain.
Friends, we got started with this little chat over tea, now let’s get started repairing the paradise of our world. One dollar at a time.
Mrs. Mango's Hibiscus Flower Tea
- 2 cups near boiling water
- 2 to 4 dried hibiscus flowers
- 4 to 5 dried rose hips or 1-2 teaspoons crushed rose hips
- 1 teaspoon dried lemongrass or 1 teaspoon lemon balm leaves
- 1 strip orange peel, white pith cut off
- 3 to 4 fresh mint leaves
- Honey (as needed)
- Place tea ingredients into a large tea ball or muslin bagand steep in near boiling water 5-8 minutes, then strain.
- Serve tea hot or iced, sweetened with honey to taste.
From the kitchen of palatablepastime.com
Here is a list of reputable organizations compiled from group suggestions
as well as Charity Navigator:
- Volunteer Florida
- Miami Diaper Bank
- Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida
- South Florida Wildlife Center
- Heart of Florida United Way
- All Faiths Food Bank
- Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida
- Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency
- Fondos Unidos
- Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands
- St. John Community Foundation
- Anguilla Beaches