Skip to content

Tag: Antioxidants

Papaya and Hibiscus Tea Smoothie

Inspired by my recent visit to the Lou Bess? Dakar Farmers Market and the wonderful array of local products I found there such as moringa and baobab powders, and lemongrass, hibiscus and kinkeliba teas, I thought about how I could combine some of these flavours to create a uniquely West African drink.

The result is a Papaya and Hibiscus Tea Smoothie, with a baobab powder boost. Adding tea to a smoothie is a great way of introducing an extra depth of flavour and added nutrients without adding calories. The sweetness of the papaya balances out the naturally tart flavours of the baobab and hibiscus, and the overall result is a zingy and refreshing antioxidant-infused treat.

Dried hibiscus flowers and baobab fruit

Here’s a closer look at some of the ingredients:

Hibiscus tea or Bissap, is a popular drink across West Africa. It helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol, supports a healthy immune system, and has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.

Baobab fruit has received a lot of attention in recent years as an African superfood, and deservedly so. It contains more vitamin c than oranges, more calcium than milk and a host of minerals like iron and magnesium.

Papaya is a rich source of antioxidants such as carotenes, and contains vitamin c and fibre.

I’ve been drinking this tasty concoction as a caffeine-free boost when my energy levels start to flag, and as a nutritious alternative to a cup of coffee or sugary snack mid-afternoon.


One tablespoon of dried hibiscus flowers (or a hibiscus tea bag)

A quarter of a medium sized papaya cut into chunks

One tablespoon of baobab fruit powder

One cup of milk (your choice of soy, almond, cow’s etc.)

A couple of teaspoons of honey

Half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon (optional)

Steep the hibiscus flowers (or tea bag) in a cup of boiling water for 3-5 minutes then strain.

Place the liquid from the hibiscus and all the rest of the ingredients into a blender.

Blend until a creamy consistency is achieved.

And enjoy your Papaya and Hibiscus Tea Smoothie; packed with West African flavours and bursting with vitamins and antioxidants. Your body will thank you for it!


You can easily make substitutions to this recipe to add variety. For a Southern African twist why not try rooibos instead of hibiscus tea, or mango instead of papaya?


Kinkeliba : the West African Super Tea


In Senegal, Kinkeliba (Seh-Haw in Wolof) is the most popular of the bush teas. But despite amazing healing properties and higher antioxidant levels than Green tea, it’s not widely known outside West Africa.

The leaves of this shrub – when dried and boiled – produce a strong, earthy-tasting tea which is mineral-rich and caffeine-free.

Dried Bissap (Hibiscus) and Kinkeliba at Tilene Market in Dakar
Bag of dried Kinkeliba leaves

It’s drunk all year round but is especially popular during the colder months, and is used by Muslims to break the fast during Ramadan.

A non-exhaustive list of Kinkeliba’s health benefits would go something like this: aids liver disorders, sleep problems, digestion, skin complaints such as eczema and acne (due to anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties), general convalescence after illness, detoxification, and can be applied during the final rinse to strengthen dry and brittle hair. If that wasn’t enough, research suggests it may be beneficial in the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes.

No wonder Kinkeliba is said to have mystical properties and is referred to as “tisane de longue vie” or infusion of long life.

Here’s how to make it:

Add 20g of dried Kinkeliba leaves to a pot with a litre of boiling water
Boil for 20-30 minutes until the water turns orangey-red (to make a weaker tea steep a tablespoon of leaves in a cup of boiling water for 10 minutes)
Add sugar or honey to sweeten, or mint, lemon or milk to your taste
And voila, enjoy your refreshing West African antioxidant hit!

If you live in Senegal, you can find Kinkeliba leaves at most markets and supermarkets. In the United States, you can purchase Kinkeliba from a fantastic company called Saafara Teas, founded by Senegalese entrepreneur Ismael Diagne.

Diagne’s mission is to bring the healing herbal teas of West Africa to the world, while helping those who harvest the plants in Senegal. A percentage of each box of tea purchased goes towards improving facilities in the local community.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Palm Tree Tea by adding your email address to the form on right!