Month of Tea Brewing 2017 – Day #15
Blooming teas come in many different styles – using many different combinations of flavorful, edible flowers with tea leaves and buds. People are often surprised that the brewed tea is usually very pleasant. We often speak about the beauty of the leaf. The craftsmanship of a hand-rolled oolong or the elegance of unbroken green leaves or the softness of buds that still wear their downy coating. But we still grade and value the whole leaf teas on flavor as well as appearance. As this craft matures, it may be that the flavor of the brew becomes another valued characteristic.
One stop on our 2009 World Tea Tour with Dan Robertson was at the farm and factory specializing in the blossoming teas. We met the owner, a woman who inherited the tea garden from her family at a time when it was very unusual to have women inherit management positions. But she is credited with saving the struggling farm, training many young women to tie the delicate tea flowers and created dozens of unique designs. (See my photos below)
This work was inspired by an ancient craft – an artistic tradition that women who worked in the fields had passed down to daughters. But the realization that this would be a product of interest to tea lovers around the world is a very modern idea.
The flower that we learned to tie started with a bundle of 120 tea buds tied with a fine thread. An osmanthus flower was then inserted in the center of the bundle and we stretched the tea around it to hide it in the center of the bundle. We wrapped the small ball with cotton thread and then left it to dry in a mold.
Hope you have some fun with your tea today.
Blossoming Tea in Glass
You will often find the compressed tea “balls” of blossoming or flowering teas sold in gift sets with a special glass teapot to better watch the tea leaves open and the flowers bloom. And this makes a wonderful gift! But the truth is that you don’t need a special piece of steepware to enjoy the show. For our demonstration, we used a brandy snifter with a subtle side spout. But they also bloom beautifully in individual glass teacups or tempered glasses.
Most of these teas have a nice flavor if the first infusion is served immediately. Then more water can be added for a second infusion or just to remain suspended in the water. They are often used as decorations on a tea table and are left in the water so long that the liquor tends to become a little bitter – never intended to be sipped. (Too Bad!) But, when this is the case, they can also be displayed in a clear glass vase and rehydrated slowly in room-temperature water.
One cup at a time
If it takes years or decades,
Tea will change the world.
Tea changed my world.
So . . . yes . . . that is what I want to convey as a writer. Tea will change the world. I believe that wholeheartedly. And I will do my small part—with my small writing voice—to help tea change the world.
Until the day it does.Geoffrey Norman