My 7 ingredient Zobo drink

Zobo, the popular refreshing drink made out of steeping mauve coloured dried leaves in warm water. The English, or do I say the Carribean name for Zobo is Sorrel. I never liked Zobo drink to be honest. It wasn’t something my mother made at home often (thankfully), so most of my zobo drinking memories were from drinking it at a friend or family members house or at parties where it was served to kids and young adults. It used to amaze me how people gulped the thing down with such relish. I could barely tolerate it. To not come across as a snotty teenager I used to hold my breath, gulp it down with such speed and you couldn’t pay me to ask for seconds. The smell was offensive, the taste was offensive, ugh!!

At some point, it was the craze everywhere. No party was complete without the deep mauve coloured drink. It used to amaze me why this was so because any spillage and your party dress was almost ruined. Zobo used to rank up there with Kunu, which I still don’t like but now that I have been making zobo myself a few times now and finally perfecting the recipe which I am writing now, I just may go ahead and try out Kunu. This is my chic Zobo drink, with a little kick and lots of ooomph.

You will need

2 cups of the zobo leaves

6 cups of water

1 orange – juice and rind

1/2 a lemon – juice and rind

2 tablespoons of whole cloves – called konafuru

1 tablespoon of dried chilli flakes – substitute with dried shombo or cayenne pepper (dry pepper)

1 cinnamon stick – substitute with 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon powder

2 tablespoons of organic honey

2 stumps of fresh ginger

Sugar syrup to finish – optional


Zobo leaves – also called Sorrel


cinnamon stick, whole cloves and ginger


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How To

1. Measure two cups of the zobo leaves, pour into a colander and give it a good rinse with cold water. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: the leaves tend to hold a lot of dust and particles so ensure you rinse it properly. Preferrable under a running tap, reducing the essence of the leaves rinsing out. i.e. don’t sit it in a bowl and rinse. This will cause wastage.


2. Measure the cloves and grind into a powder

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3. Prep the other ingredients i.e slice the orange, extract the juice and cut up the pulp and rind into quarters. Do the same for the lemon. As for the ginger, I used two stumps showed in the picture below. Peel the skin and pound in a mortar and pestle or roughly blend.


4. In a pot, add the zobo leaves and 6 cups of cold water. Set the heat to low and add all the ingredients from Step 3, including the cinnamon stick. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: i know some recipes state that boil water and pour over the leaves, like making tea. I have found that the taste of the drink is more intense when you let the leaves steep slowly with the ingredients. The end result is also a very rich and thick juice. Intense heat also destroys the flavour, hence low heat. This will take time, but the results are so worth it. SAM_9478

5. When the mixture starts to boil, take it off the heat. remember my earlier comment about intense heat? I gave it a taste and I loved it, but I wanted to give it a little extra kick. I added more cloves (about half a teaspoon) and a little ginger (a small bit) which gave it more oomph, but I still wanted that kick. I thought to myself, what, what, what, then it hit me. Aaaaaah, dried chilli flakes. 1 tablespoon and BOOM!!! I got what I wanted. One sip and you can taste all the aromatic spices permeating through your taste buds and on swallowing you feel a tingling sensation from the chilli. Perfect.


I thought 1 tablespoon was a tad much at first, and that was probably because the drink was still hot. When it cooled down, it was much better. You can use less if you wish. Transfer the mixture into a plastic bowl, add the honey and leave to cool down. Ordinarily you would sieve out the leaves, the orange, lemon and cinnamon stick once it cools. No, I did not do that, I left it to steep further for 2 days. Day 1 on my kitchen counter and Day 2 in the fridge.


Each time I tasted it, it was much better. By day 2 it wasn’t improving anymore, so I strained out the leaves and the other ingredients. What you will be left with is a really thick drink. Rather than dilute it with just water, transfer the sieved out contents to a bowl and add hot water. Use the resultant solution to dilute the drink, that way you get as much as you can out of the leaves, after which you can discard.


Leave to chill in the fridge, or hasten the process by adding ice cubes and serve garnished with slices of Orange, Lemon and Lime. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: don’t add sugar syrup until you are ready to serve. I find that sugar alters the taste after some time in the fridge.


Spicy, sweet and sharp


a drink that is relevant, whatever time of the year.


To serve in a glass, add ice cubes


Add a slice of lemon to the edge of the glass. Cheers!!!!


With my big batch of Zobo chilling in the fridge, I am going to give it a twist by making cocktails out of it. A zobo Martini, which I term a Zobotini, a Zobo Margarita – get out the tequila. You could also make a Sangria with it, to make your own signature cocktail. Get creative with it. I will also be making a dessert out of this. Ice cream machine to the rescue.See you at the next post. Cheers!!

58 thoughts on “My 7 ingredient Zobo drink

    • Zobo is a very refreshing drink that is healthy. When you make it with citrus fruits, you get the added bonus of extra vitamin C. You can look up the health benefits of zobo. Think of it like a fruit juice. I hope that helps

  1. Thanks dunni pls call me if u get this on 08137501477.l am in Lagos and l am into health research. I want to meet wt u on one to one. Thanks. Mrs Taiwo

  2. Dooney, at what point do you add the juice of the orange and lemon? I didn’t see that part in the recipe, except I am missing something

    • Thank you Melvina. You can get cinnamon sticks in supermarkets, check the aisle that has baking goods. If you find the powder, use 1 teaspoon

    • It depends on where you live. BIMS in Peckham. Ade’s in Woolwich. Upton Park, Dalston Market. Brixton, if you check the Jamaican shops, ask for Sorrel leaves. They are called Sorrel in the Carribean

  3. Dooney, all I want to say is thank you once again.detailed description, I sure would try it, will let you know as soon as its done.i appreciate you.

    • Errrrr, not sure how that will work. Garlic is pretty strong, and its flavour, may be really off putting in Zobo. Emphasis on may. You could try it out and let me know.

  4. Heard cinnamon isn’t safe for pregnant women. Dooney, what can I use in its stead or should I just leave it out completely? Will I still get that rich flavor?

    • Anything unsafe for you in your condition, please leave it out. If it is safe for you to have cloves (konofuru), that is enough for a full body flavour. You can resume to cinnamon when the baby arrives. Congrats on the pregnancy. I wish you a safe delivery and healthy baby

  5. Hello Dooney i bet you get this alot but from ma heart i am saying WELL DONE!!!!!. Now, someone asked if you can add garlic to zobo. Well, yes you can but not when you are in a hurry to drink it. I experimented with it some time back and discovered that day 1, you get this pretty strong aroma that will definitely put you off but when in the fridge from day 2, the ingredients blend and it turns awesome. Also when boiling, i drop pineapple peels as well the flavor/taste…..AWESOME!
    PS: When letting it sit on the kitchen counter day1, u can drop cucumber thinly sliced and allow it seep….Enjoy!
    Cloves in hausa is KANAMPARI/MATSORO for my sisters in the northern part of the country.

  6. Zobo drink is known to ferment quickly most times, please what can be added to prevent this or rather how long do you advice to keep refrigerated before it is no longer safe for consumption, because I don’t know if the fermented one is still safe for consumption. . .

    • Refrigerate for 10 days or less, and it should be fine. Fermentation only introduces alcohol. As long as you are not pregnant or giving it to children, it is fine. I really haven’t encountered that problem before, so I don’t know what to advise about preventing fermentation

  7. Hi Dooney, I’m back again o always trailing you LOL….so I made Tigernuts’ Milk and I want to try my hands on Zobo drink this weekend,did you grind the Lemon,Orange and Ginger? Again which one is Rind pls o?

  8. nice one again. wanna try it today but please did you cover the bowl when you allowed it to sit on the counter and also in the fridge? also the cloves, is it what the seller call zobo seeds? cos heard that from where i went to get the zobo leaves.

  9. You know Dunni, i recently made beet juice and my friend said it tasted and looks like Zobo. I have never had zobo before, but looking at your pictures, i can believe her. Do you know if the leaves and beets are in the same family

  10. hey Dooney, I used your recipe to do some zobo and i am not sure why mine has a very sharp slightly bitter taste. It is still in the fridge with all the lemon, and cinnamon inside… Do you have any idea why?
    I do not want to add sugar to it

    • Hi Kemi, please ask a doctor or a midwife, as i am not qualified to give an affirmative answer and i won’t want to mislead you

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