5 Flowers Found in Tea Blends

Tea blends can have all kinds of additions. Flowers are hugely popular.

Safflower and Blue Cornflower – Common Flower Additions to Tea Blends

Flowers have been added to tea for centuries. How many of the 5 of the most common flower petals do you recognize from your favorite tea blends?

  1. Calendula – This golden yellow petal is a member of the marigold family. It has been used for centuries in food as the petals are edible. They were originally used to dye cheese and other food items a creamy yellow. It also acts as a replacement for saffron. Brewed by itself, this petal has a very leathery flavor. However, added to tea, it smooths out the astringency of drink. We use it to soften the tea flavor in our Georgia’s Peach.
  2. Cornflower – The cornflower is a member of the Asteraceae family. Commonly used as a decorating plant in flower beds, this pale to dark blue flower has been long prized for its color. The petals are edible and are easily used to dress up any food item. The color in the petals transfers out in hot water, which will affect the color of the tea brew. We love how this looks in our Shenandoah Blue.
  3. Safflower – This red or yellow flower is also a member of the Asteraceae family. This plant has been used by humans for centuries. Its seeds are where safflower oil comes from and its petals have been used for dyes. For tea, they are used to dress up the dry leaf by adding some visual interest. You won’t be missing this flower in our Cherry Blossom White.
  4. Jasmine – First used by Chinese to scent tea, this famous night blooming flower is known more for its scent than its petals. It is pale white and quite fragile, which helps to explain why the petals do not appear as often in tea blends as you might think. The other reason they don’t appear often in tea blends is that when brewed they impart an unsalted steamed green bean flavor, not the scent imparted by the pollen of the flower.
  5. Rose – This famous flower has thousands of cultivars and not all of them are safe for culinary uses. The Food & Drug Administration allows only the use of certain species in food, which are Rosa alba L., Rosa centifolia L., Rosa damascena Mill., Rosa gallica L., and varietals of these species. These beautiful petals add both scent and a slight astringency to the tea they are added to. We give them a starring role in The Rose Garden tea.

The next time you are exploring tea blends be sure to look at the ingredients and see if you recognize any of these flowers.

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Fujian Province of China

On the southeast cost of China lies Fujian Province.

Fujian Province China

The Fujian Province of China is an ecologically diverse region of China that makes the perfect home for tea to grow. Located on the southeastern coast of China, Fujian is approximately 46,000 square miles, about the same size as Mississippi. It currently has a population of 38 million, 1 million higher than the state of California (the most populated state in the US). Fujian is home to many Chinese ethnic minorities including the Hui, Miao and Manchu to name just a few. The Silk Road turned Fujian into one of the most culturally diverse regions of China and the mountainous topography allowed the different cultures to settle and remain distinct over the centuries of migration through this area. This amazing mix of diversity in both people and land forms has created a region with diverse tea production and culture.

Terroir of Fujian Province

Fujian has a humid and mild climate, even up in its mountains. The average low temperature is 41°F and the high will get to around 85°F and averages around 40 inches of rain a year. Most of the tea in the Fujian province is grown in the mountains. Mount Wuyi is the most famous mountain in Fujian province and is part of a jagged mountain range that is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Most of the tea are planted on the eastern and northern slopes of this range to get the right mix of fog and sun.

The mild climate also makes this province home to a wide variety of fruits and flowers like bananas, lychee, olives, and jasmine.

History & Culture of Fujian Province

There is a saying in China that says if you travel 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) in Fujian, the culture changes, and if you travel 10 kilometers (6.21 miles) the language changes. This cultural diversity is attributed to the Silk Road, that travels through the entire province. Fujian is one of the oldest provinces, established during the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty (220BCE-206BCE) that has survived many dynasties intact. Its large coast lines created even larger trading ports along the coast and the Silk Road created large trading cities inland and brought in many different cultures.

To give you just a glimpse into the cultural diversity, the Hui are decedents of Arabic and Persian merchants and are one of the largest Muslim communities in China. Their dialect is a mix of Chinese and Persian. The Manchus are descendants of the Jurchen people, who were farming tribes in northern China and Siberia that came south bringing their farming and animal husbandry skills to the rest of China, including goat and cow milk production. While the traditions and dialects are different, generally all the cuisines focus on the the abundant seafood found on the coast along with the wide varieties of fruit and vegetable that grow in the region. The spicing on the dishes reflect the culture and heritage of the chef that produces them.

Famous Teas of Fujian Province

Jasmine Tea - Scented Green Tea and Liquor

Jasmine Dragon Tears – Scented Green Tea

Fujian Province is considered the birthplace of Jasmine Dragon Tears Tea, with its creation beginning during the Song dynasty (960 CE-1127CE). It is from Fujian that we get the pine smoked Lapsang Souchong, and where we can find great oolongs like Ti Kuan Yin as well assubtle black teas like Da Hong Pao.

The tea culture has been here since its beginning and has been influenced by the Silk Road. The oolong technique started here traveled the short distance across the Taiwan straight to Taiwan. The techniques for Jasmine tea traveled to other provinces like Huebi. For tea drinkers, Fujian is an important part of tea history and still plays a key role in the industry today.

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Bao Zhong Oolong – Green Oolongs

Bao Zhong Pouchong

Bao Zhong Oolong leaf and infused liquor.

Bao Zhong Oolong is a light creamy oolong that belongs to a group of oolongs called pouchong oolongs, or green oolongs. These oolongs are lightly oxidized, around 20%, which is typical of a green tea. However they are characterized as oolongs due to the steps taken in their manufacturing process and their sharper more melon like flavors.

History of Bao Zhong Oolong

The name Pouchong translates to “paper wrapped” tea. A reference to the older manufacturing process of wrapping the tea in paper as part of the drying process. As technology advanced to allow for more consistent ovens that better controlled the temperatures during the baking process to stop oxidation, this practice has stopped. Bao Zhong Oolong is now produced mainly in the northern part of Taiwan. However, you can periodically find Bao Zhongs from the Fujian province of China. Pouchong oolongs where produced in mainland China for many centuries, but fell out of favor during the 1800′s. Taiwan at that time was looking to distinguish its tea manufacturing from China and adopted the practice of Pouchong teas, which it still keeps today. Bao Zhong is produced in the Wen Shan mountains of Taiwan about 30 miles south of the capital city of Taipei. The terroir of the region is high mountain with ocean mist and fog blanketing the mountains most mornings and burning off later in the day. This gives the the right amount of moisture and sun, allowing for the perfectly subtle and yet complex flavors that are expected from this tea. This oolong is hand twisted as opposed to being balled like Ti Kuan Yin. The minimal handling and light oxidation of this oolong creates a light, creamy oolong that is closer to a green tea than most other oolongs.

Bao Zhong Pouchong

Infused Bao Zhong Oolong Leaf

How to Prepare Bao Zhong Oolong

Like other oolongs, you are going to use a lower water temperature. However, because of its green tea characteristics, the water temperature can be dropped even lower to 175°F. You can use 3 grams to 8 ounces of water and keep your steeping times between 2-3 minutes. If you happen to own a Gaiywan, and enjoy this way of consuming tea, this is a perfect tea to steep in it as it does contain smaller particulates that will come out  of the twisted leaves when brewed that give it a full mouth feel when consumed in the water. Bao Zhong oolong should sit on every tea drinker’s list as a tea you must try at least once to consider yourself a true tea connoisseur.

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Chocolate Mint Tea Popsicles

Popsicle made with chocolate mint tea.

Chocolate Mint Pop

We love cooking with our tea and who doesn’t love a popsicle to cool down on a hot summer day?  These tea popsicles are a great way to cool down and enjoy your favorite beverage and better still are made with our Chocolate Mint rooibos tea so they are a caffeine free, kid friendly, option.

Chocolate Mint Tea Popsicles (Makes 6)

3 Tablespoons of Chocolate Mint Tea

2 cups water

1 cup whole milk (You can use a lowfat milk, it will make the popsicles more icy and less creamy.)

3 teaspoons agave nectar

3 teaspoons tsp vanilla

Chocolate chips, optional

Bring the water to a boil and steep the tea in the water for 7 minutes. Strain off the tea and allow to cool. Whisk together the tea, milk agave nectar and vanilla. If the mixture is at room temperature, the popsicles will freeze faster if you put the mixture in the refrigerator for a few hours to cool down. Then pour the mixture into your popsicle molds and freeze per manufacturers instructions. If you want to use the chocolate chips the trick is to wet the bottom of the chips with a little bit of the popsicle mixture and stick them to the sides of the mold. If that doesn’t work, you can drop them in after pouring in most of the mixture. However, they will sink to what will become the top of the popsicle. If you used the tried and true paper cup and tongue depressor method, you will need about 4 hours for these to freeze, but the safer bet is over night.

The Chocolate Mint rooibos tea can be replaced easily with South Africian Chai, Masala Chai or Chocolate Chai in this recipe to spice it up even more.

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Connoisseur Tea? Adventurous? Conventional? What’s with the tea categories?

If you’ve ever had some of our tea, experienced our Purcellville Virginia Tasting Room, or explored our website you may have noticed one of the icons below associated with our teas. Or maybe you just stumbled across these terms while looking for tea by experience on our website. Either way, we figured it was probably about time to clarify what these mean and why you will see them on our teas. Most tea drinkers are familiar with browsing teas by country or by tea type. But we wanted to offer an alternative way to search for great teas based simply on your experience with tea. In short, the idea is to group teas based on your preference for blended and/or flavored teas, something a bit more traditional, and something truly special in the world of tea. Each path offers great tea but is another way to help zero in on the perfect experience for you.

Connoisseur Tea, Adventurous Tea, or Conventional Tea

An alternative way to find new teas.

Conventional Tea

We categorize our conventional tea options as great tasting teas which are less traditional and are generally blended with other great ingredients like hibiscus, jasmine, ginger, or a host of other great additions. These teas may also be flavored to help add some pop to the aroma or flavor.

Adventurous Tea

For those who want to explore a bit more, or have an adventurous streak, we offer our adventurous teas. These teas generally step away from the added ingredients and flavorings and explore higher quality teas coming from unexpected or nontraditional regions. While most adventurous teas are not blends or flavored, there are some, especially with a base tea from named estates or geographic regions, or unexpected flavor combinations.

Connoisseur Tea

Finally our connoisseur tea selection is for those looking for some of the best tea available. You will find named teas (like Dragonwell, aka Longjing Tea) linked to a specific region or estate. Of all our tea categories, our connoisseur tea group reflects the best for experience tea drinkers, typically features teas of a premium pluck, and those that can be particularly difficult to obtain.

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