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.

Follow Dominion Tea: Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestrss

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.

Follow Dominion Tea: Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestrss

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.

Follow Dominion Tea: Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestrss

Hojicha: Japan’s Roasted Tea

Loose Leaf Hojicha

Hojicha Organic

Hojicha (also spelled Houjicha) is a truly unique tea from Japan. This roasted green tea was supposedly created by a tea merchant in Kyoto,sometime in the 1920’s, who decided to roast bancha tea outside of his tea store to attract customers in to look at his tea wares. This rather humble beginning hides a tea that is actually a staple in Japanese tea culture today. The roasting lowers caffeine in the tea when compared to its fellow green teas, so the Japanese frequently use hojicha as an evening tea or tea that is given to anyone who may be sensitive to caffeine, like children or the elderly.

How Hojicha is Made

Hojicha is made from bancha tea, or later harvest tea. The leaves are typically on the plant longer, making them bigger and imparting a more dry grass flavor. Bancha is processed just like Sencha, so it is steamed to stop oxidation. Hoijcha comes from adding an additional step to the bancha process of roasting the leaves at around 200°F for just a few minutes. This roasting process imparts a roasted chestnut or hazelnut aroma and flavor. If it is roasted for too long, just like nuts, the leaves will quickly burn.

Hojicha can have tea stems in it, but this often dictated on whether the stems are kept in or removed as part of making bancha. Having stems in your hojicha is not a bad thing, it can actually intensify the nutty flavor from roasting.

How to Brew Hojicha

Hojicha is brewed in Japan just like other green teas. The water temperature should be in the range of 175-185°F. You will want around 3 grams of tea to 8 ounces of water. Generally hojicha leaves are larger and quite lightweight, so reach for tablespoon to measure out this tea if not using a kitchen scale. It can be steeped for up to 3 minutes. While it might be tempting to treat this green tea like a black tea because of its color, boiling water will eliminate some of the nuances found when the lower water temperature is used. It can also be brewed by doubling or tripling the amount of tea to water and dropping the steep time to 30 seconds-1 minute. This often results in a very intense nutty flavor.

This beautiful tea is worth exploring whenever you are in the mood for something nutty in your tea.

Follow Dominion Tea: Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestrss

Flowering Teas – Artwork in a Tea Pot

Flowering teas in a teapot for two at Dominion Tea - Purcellville Tasting Room

Flower Burst enjoyed at our Purcellville Tasting Room in Loudoun County Virginia.

Flowering Teas are not only a good cup of tea but a beautiful piece of artwork. These relative new comers to the tea world require little work from the brewer and a clear glass teapot to truly enjoy.

History and the making of Flowering Teas

Flowering teas, or blooming teas, surfaced in the Chinese market in the 1980’s and started to make it into the US in noticeable volume in the 1990’s. These teas are a combination of tea leaves and flower petals that are sewn together in a pattern to create a flower when steeped in hot water. Always hand tied, these teas originated from the Yunnan province.

In choosing the flowers and tea leaves, the tea company focuses on the wow factor of the bloom opening and the color contrasts along with the flavor. Typically green tea is used as the base to create what will become the leaves of the flower. The tea may or may not be jasmine scented prior to being sewn together. The artists making these are working with wilted leaves that have not been baked yet, so there are a lot of possibilities on how they introduce flavor into the creation. Usually they are working with older leaves as they will hold up to the sewing and molding into shapes more than the younger.

Once the base is in place, using cotton yarn, they will stitch in the center flowers working from the outer flower petals into the center. Common flowers for this are jasmine, chrysanthemum, osmanthus, lily, hibiscus, and amaranth. These flowers impart their own scent and flavor to the tea. The creation is baked and slowly formed into the bud.

Brewing Flowering Teas

Flowering Burst tea balls and open in liquor.

Flower Burst tied flowering tea.

To enjoy a flowering tea, you really need a clear glass tea pot. Since you are working with a green tea and flower petals, you will need water in the 175-185 degree Fahrenheit range. Place the ball in the pot and then fill with water. The ball will float because of the air pockets formed in the ball while it was being stitched together. With time, the ball will absorb in enough water to start to sink. You can help it along using a spoon or chop stick to hold down the ball. Once you see air bubbles leaving the ball, you should be all set to allow the ball to sit and open. This can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes. Once the ball opens, feel free to pour yourself a cup of tea.

Using the Flowering Teas for Decoration

So once you have enjoyed that pot of tea, you can use the open flower as a decoration. Grab a glass vase or cup large enough to allow the flower to remain open in the bottom. Put the flower in the bottom and add enough cold water to allow the blossom to be fully covered. Add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar. The vinegar will slow the browning of the flower petals. You will need to change the water about every 3 days and the flower will stay for about 2 weeks before fading becomes very apparent. If may be less if kept in a spot with direct sunlight.

Add flowering teas to your tea collection and enjoy a beautiful center piece as well as a good cup of tea.

Follow Dominion Tea: Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestrss