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By Maria K., YES Abroad 2019-2020, Ghana
In December, I spent a weekend learning how to make my favorite Ghanaian drink, Sobolo. Sobolo is a drink made from the petals of hibiscus flowers. Some say that there are many health benefits to drinking it. For me, I love Sobolo, not only for the vitamin C, but for its beautiful deep magenta color and its sweet yet, spicy ginger taste. In fact, the color of Sobolo is so strong that it can stain your skin purple for a day or two! Sobolo can be found almost everywhere, as many street vendors prepare and sell the drink around town or in the market. It is also commonly served at parties and celebrations. I spent my Sobolo-making weekend with my host mom and sisters, Hilda and Erica. I was so excited to make this traditional Ghanaian drink! It was a lot of fun to spend time with the family and to learn from them.
Making Sobolo is much simpler than I originally thought: First, we boiled water; second, we added in the dried hibiscus flowers and let the hibiscus taste and color, seep into the hot water as we stirred. Then, we cut ginger and cloves and put them into the blender along with a few other spices. After all the ingredients were blended, the hibiscus-filled water was ready to be strained. We poured the water through two different sieves to remove all the hibiscus flowers. The next step was to add the ginger and clove favors into the red drink by sieving water through a blended spice mixture. Finally, we all tasted it and added some sugar.
My host mom also likes to add a few packets of powdered juice or fruit punch. That was it! Once the mixture is just right it can be served hot, cold, or even, my favorite, frozen as Sobolo popsicles. During this process, my hands and feet became purple from all the Sobolo. The intense color stayed until I went to school on Monday, where my friends adored the fact that I had made their traditional drink.
The beautiful red drink and the fun weekend will always hold a sweet piece of my heart. I plan to make this amazing and awesome drink for my family and friends in Minnesota, so that they may also get a warm, colorful taste of Ghana!