A taste of home: Siblings bring Nigerian tea and culture to Hammond, start business


Courtesy of Firdaws Ashiru

When siblings Firdaws and Ruhullah Ashiru came to Hammond, La., they did not expect Americans to be obsessed with something so dear to their childhood. 

In Nigeria, they drank hibiscus tea when they were little, and they realized that America did not seem to have anything similar to the tea they loved growing up. Hibiscus teas were not easily accessible, and with that in mind, Firdaws gathered materials to make a healthier alternative after seeing her grandmother go through arthritis surgery. 

Fresh Hibiscus Tea, founded by Firdaws Ashiru, was created to bring hibiscus tea to the Hammond area. 

Ashiru explained why she chose Hammond to share her product.

“They have this weekly Hammond farmer’s market. I do different markets on a monthly basis, and Hammond is a pretty great spot. We’ve [her and her brother] been in the market since 2019. We’ve been in that community for quite a while. It’s a great crowd of people,” Ashiru said. 

Founded by Firdaws Ashiru, Fresh Hibiscus Tea provides a healthy alternative to other flavored soft drinks. (Courtesy of Firdaws Ashiru)

Firdaws took Louisiana’s love for iced and sweet tea and combined it with a special ingredient from home.

Ashiru shared details of her journey from bringing her Nigerian roots and products to the Hammond area.

She said, “The hibiscus flower, what our product is all about, is a drink that we shared as kids. The hibiscus flower is a flower that grows in tropical regions, so you’ll find it in Africa, Asia, Latin America. Really, every part of the world drinks Hibiscus, so it’s not a new innovation. Really what’s new is bringing it to America, bringing it to the Louisiana community.” 

In 2019, Fresh Hibiscus Tea hosted a demonstration at the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, which aired on the Food Network in New Orleans.

“It was through the New Orleans Museum. There’s this museum that exhibits New Orleans history, and it was really cool because, the owner of that museum that introduced me to the network channel and got us featured, she was sharing some really cool facts about New Orleans and how they had this culture, but it’s not there anymore of the red drink,” Firdaws said.

Ashiru explained the significance of the red drink, which is something she learned while on tour of the museum in New Orleans. 

She said, “It was like a red soda drink, and people didn’t know that, in order to make it red, they used hibiscus. When I first started this business, and people saw how red my drinks were, they were like, ‘oh, you’re definitely using some kind of coloring’ and I was like, ‘no, this is all natural.’ We don’t use any artificial flavors. The hibiscus flower is so strong.” 

Firdaws’ brother Ruhullah Ashiru, a Southeastern student, is known for his skills in sales.

“I introduced her to the Hammond market and everything, and I helped her sell products. I talked to a lot of people in the downtown area before Firdaws came to the Hammond market. Whenever I talk to them, I introduce the product, and it’s easy to have more popularity downtown, and the name of Fresh Hibiscus became more known, so everyone wanted to try it. I was trying to hype up the name, so that’s kind of my job,” Ashiru said. 

Ruhullah was excited to share his culture with the area. The tea he and his sister make reminds him of bubble tea and its popularity in the states.

Ruhullah Ashiru, left, and Firdaws Ashiru, right, enjoy a day of promoting Fresh Hibiscus Tea products. Firdaws is a top-selling vendor at the Hammond Farmers Market. (Courtesy of Firdaws Ashiru)

“It originated in Thailand, and the person who brought it was really happy to see that Americans like it, and that reminded me of the hibiscus tea. It’s bringing a culture to America. America’s culture is a melting pot, and a lot of cultures thrive here. Just bringing that culture and sharing it is really amazing to me. Seeing peoples’ reactions is awesome too,” he said. 

Fresh Hibiscus Tea shared that they are currently looking for workers who love sales and who could help them sell their products. For more information, email [email protected].