How to preserve zobo drink

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “how to preserve zobo drink”, and discuss the different methods used to preserve zobo drink. 

How to preserve zobo drink 

Driven by a high demand for healthy and convenient beverages, Ready-To-Drink offers currently represent about half of the United States tea market in sales, with premium brands experiencing annual growth rates of 5 to 7%. Meanwhile, as North Americans, particularly Millennials, increasingly revel in the discovery of new and differentiated teas flavors—such as those with ethnic or exotic origin, organic and/or fair trade certification, and craft blends—specialty products enjoy growth rates of 8 to 10% and foodservice tea offers continue to rise in popularity (1).

Zobo drink can be preserved by: 

  • Refrigerating or freezing
  • Pasteurization
  • Adding natural preservatives such as limes and spices
  • Adding chemical preservatives such as sodium benzoate or magnesium sulfate
  • Using aseptic packaging

What is zobo drink

Zobo drink, also known as hibiscus tea in English, is a healthy, refreshing drink made from dried hibiscus flowers. Zobo drink originated in Nigeria and is now known worldwide for its health benefits. Zobo drinks are non-alcoholic local beverages made from different varieties of dried petals, acid succulent aqueous extract of calyx of hibiscus. Zobo is the local name for Hibiscus sabdariffa plant in Hausa (northern Nigeria (3).

The main ingredients in all zobo drink recipes include hibiscus flower petals, water, ginger and pineapple. Sugar, spices, artificial sweeteners, artificial vitamins and preservatives are sometimes added (3).

Zobo drink is easy to make at home but it has a very short shelf and will only last for a couple of days without proper preservation methods. Its shelf-life is approximately 24 hours following production, if not refrigerated. Microorganisms associated with the dried calyces, the production processes and other factors may contribute to its spoilage (3).

 The shelf-life can be prolonged by using clean water, making the zobo drink under hygienic conditions and packaging into sterilized bottles.

Preserving zobo drink by refrigerating or freezing

Refrigerating or freezing is the easiest method to preserve zobo drinks for the short term.

Refrigerating will preserve the zobo drink for a few days. Zobo drinks must be refrigerated or frozen soon after production. Both refrigerating and freezing preserves zobo drink by slowing down the growth of the microbes that cause spoilage. However, a study on the phenolic compounds of hibiscus tea during refrigerated storage showed that, even being microbiologically safe after 72 h, tea color changes, and there is a sharp decay in the concentration of anthocyanins, phenolics and antioxidant compounds after 24 h of storage. Thus, it is recommended that hibiscus tea be consumed up to 24 h from preparation even if kept refrigerated (2).

Make sure to freeze the zobo drink in clean, sterilized bottles.

Refrigerating preserve zobo drink for about a week while freezing preserves it for a few months. In a study, hibiscus tea was kept frozen at -20°C for 5 weeks with little losses on the phenolic compounds (4).

Preserving zobo drink by pasteurization

Pasteurization is the process of using heat to kill pathogenic microorganisms and extend the shelf-life of products.

Zobo can be pasteurized by keeping it for about 2 minutes in sterilized water, heated up to 100 °C.

The drawback of pasteurization is that it destroys most of the nutrients of zobo drink. The vitamin C content of zobo drinks is almost halved by pasteurization. A study showed that there was considerable loss (88%) in all volatiles in the thermally treated hibiscus tea after pasteurization compared with the control (not treated) which may indicate that there was decomposition of compounds due to heating and possible formation of other compounds (4).

Pasteurization will preserve zobo drinks for a few weeks. If zobo drink is refrigerated or frozen after pasteurization it can be preserved for about a month.

Preserving zobo drink by adding natural preservatives

There are several recipes for making a zobo drink and most of them have at least one natural preservative such as cloves, lime, ginger and nutmeg. These ingredients have a natural antibiotic effect and reduce the growth of microorganisms. 

The most commonly used natural preservatives for zobo drinks include (5):

  • Lime
  • Ginger
  • Cloves
  • Nutmeg
  • Garlic
  • Cinnamon

Adding lime juice significantly increases the shelf-life of zobo drinks.  Lime juice is acidic and lowers the pH of the zobo drink. Many microorganisms cannot survive at the low pH and spoilage is reduced. A study showed that lime juice can preserve zobo drink by reducing the microbial load. However, good environmental and personal hygiene should be maintained when processing. Additives and packaging materials should also be properly sterilized (3).

Preserving zobo drink by adding chemical preservatives

Adding chemical preservatives is the last option for preserving zobo drinks. If you are making zobo drinks for short term storage or self-consumption, always use refrigeration, freezing or natural preservatives. 

Chemical methods used in the preservation of zobo drink are mainly sodium benzoates and acetic acids. The use of acetic acid from synthetic sources for food preservatives has received worldwide restriction. Other potential chemicals that could be used include sorbate and propionate. However, the use of chemicals in the control of spoilage microorganisms could have negative effects on the nutritional composition of the drink especially in the loss of vitamins (5).

If you are producing zobo drinks for commercial sale, and cannot afford aseptic packaging, you can use a combined preservation method of pasteurization and chemical preservatives.

Chemical preservatives combined with pasteurization will preserve the zobo drink for about 40 days.

The most common chemical preservative used is sodium benzoate. A 1℅ solution of sodium benzoate can be added to preserve the zobo drink.

Another chemical preservative used in zobo drinks is magnesium sulfate mixed with citric acid. However, this chemical mixture may alter the taste of the zobo drink.

When chemically preserved zobo drinks are put up for sale, always include the preservatives in the label so that the buyers know that chemicals are present in their drinks.

Preserving zobo drink by aseptic packaging

Aseptic packaging is used to preserve commercially produced beverages. 

Aseptic packaging can be defined as the filling of a commercially sterile product into a sterile container under aseptic conditions and hermetically sealing the containers so that reinjection is prevented. This development in a product, which is shelf-stable at ambient conditions (6).

During aseptic packaging, the drinks are sterilized and then aseptically packed into sterile aluminum bags. 

If you are planning to produce a large number of zobo drinks for sale, this is a good preservation option. The drawback is that it is an expensive method and not worth the effort for small quantities.

Extended shelf-life due to the high oxygen barrier of the laminate, the laminate is less susceptible to flex cracking, secure spout with limited possibility of oxygen permeation and there is no headspace in the bag (6).

Aseptic packaging preserves zobo drinks for about 4 months.

If zobo drinks are aseptically packed, no preservatives are needed.

Health benefits of zobo drink

There are numerous health benefits of zobo drinks. Some of them are:

  • Reduces the risk of hypertension
  • Reduces the risk of cholesterol
  • Helps in weight loss
  • Helps the functioning of kidneys and liver

Results of the different articles suggested a possible therapeutic effect of H. sabdariffa extracts on oxidative stress, lipid profile, hypertension, and atherosclerosis thanks to its composition rich in phenolic compounds. Anthocyanins significantly decrease LDL oxidation, inhibit adipogenesis by regulating adipogenic signaling pathways and transcription factors, and modulate gene expression (7).

Zobo drink is not recommended for pregnant women since it causes changes in the oestrogen levels and may cause adverse effects. In a study, the effect of administering hibiscus extract to pregnant and lactating rats on pregnancy outcomes and postnatal studies was investigated. From this study, it can be concluded that maternal consumption of aqueous extract of hibiscus during pregnancy and lactation could delay the onset of puberty (8). a miscarriage.


In this brief guide, we answered the question “how to preserve zobo drink”, and discussed the different methods used to preserve zobo drink. We also looked at the health benefits of the zobo drink.

If you have any questions or comments, please let us know.


  1. P. Monteiro, Maria João, et al. Cross‐cultural development of hibiscus tea sensory lexicons for trained and untrained panelists. J Sensor Stud, 2017, 2, e12297.
  2. Paraíso, C.M., Januário, J.G.B., Mizuta, A.G. et al. Comparative studies on chemical stability, antioxidant and antimicrobial activity from hot and cold hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) calyces tea infusions. Food Measure, 2021, 15, 3531–3538.
  3. Ezeigbo, O. R., et al. Antimicrobial effect of lime juice treatment on the shelf-life of zobo drink. Brit Microbiol Res J, 2015, 6, 147.  
  4. Ramírez-Rodrigues, Milena M., et al. Phytochemical, sensory attributes and aroma stability of dense phase carbon dioxide processed Hibiscus sabdariffa beverage during storage. Food Chem, 2012, 134, 1425-1431. 
  5. IZAH, Sylvester Chibueze, et al. Advances in Preservatives and condiments used in Zobo (a food-drink) production. Biotechnol Res, 2016, 2, 104-119.
  6. Sanjana, M. C., R. Hemegowda, and R. E. Sushma. Aseptic Packaging–a novel technology to the food industry. Int J Trend Sci Res Dev, 2019, 3, 307-310.
  7. Guardiola, Soledad, and Núria Mach. Therapeutic potential of Hibiscus sabdariffa: A review of the scientific evidence. Endocrinol Nutr, 2014, 61, 274-295.
  8. Tahir, Haroon Elrasheid, et al. Hibiscus sabdariffa interactions and toxicity. Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa). Academic Press, 2021. 187-198.