So its a normal Tuesday, we’ve finished work & decided to do a food shop whilst we were driving past Lidl. We were just walking past one section that had speciality Asian cooking ingredients, which I always enjoy looking at, debating how we could use enough pickled ginger to justify buying it. My eye then catches on a rather normal looking box, I thought at first they were eggs but then I double take- they are flowering tea!!! Not that they were particularly on my list of teas (yes I have a mental list of teas I want to buy &try over the next year) but for £3.49, it was too good to pass up trying them.
Now I have an undecided opinion on flowering tea. Personally I think they are gorgeous & as they aren’t a very common occurrence in England, they are so exotic & pretty, you can’t help but want to like them. Professionally, however I’m not so convinced. We get the odd enquiry for them (as people see them online & want to try them) but I have to explain to them that more often than not, they are just pretty & probably wont make a very nice of tea. The problem is that to be able to unfurl the intricate weaving or binding that has been done to keep the leaves in the ball, it requires very very hot water. As its often green tea leaves that are used for the balls, when the water is too hot & needs to be brewed for 5-7 minutes for the flower to open, it can burn the leaves, leaving a bitter taste when you are able to drink it.
Honestly I haven’t dealt a lot in flowering tea as its not something that is easily accessable so its been more personal research I’ve done for it. They originate from China but were more of just hand tied tea leaves, the more theatrical style has only come about in the past 30 years. Often they don’t use actual flowers in them, but they look like flowers as the tea leaves unfurl. When they do use flowers, its ones such as carnations, chrysanthemum, jasmine & marigold amongst others are used. As with drinking tea, there is the potential for additional health benefits to drink something that has been infused with flowers which also have variety of benefits.
This seemed like the perfect excuse to try out my new glass teapot I bought recently when we were in TKMAXX, its the cutest little thing & great for something like this when I know I want want to be drink cup after cup. Also its glass & really what is essential for a visual tea like this. By the time I took some pictures & settled down to my laptop, I’m thinking its about 5 minutes (recommendation on the box is 5-7 minutes) so I pour. The smell is quite nice & fresh, very green with hints of spinach, hay & a little bit of nut. I’m quite surprised as I thought it was going to smell just a bit stale & of not much else. The liquor is a pale yellow & the flavour is quite similar to the smell, fresh, with a hint of spinach & almost a bit sweet. Its not amazingly shockingly fantastic & I think its a little over brewed for me, there a bit of a sharp tang on the tip of my tongue but Im not surprised at that. It’s not an distasteful green tea. The box says that that balls can be infused more than once so I will have to try that with the next ball to see if the second pot is slightly less bitter as it won’t need to steep for so long to open the ball.
Overall I’m pleasantly surprised. It’s probably not something I’m going to grab on a daily bases (at 50p a cup, its not the most economical tea I could have) but definitely one to bring out on special occasions when friends come over. Its got a lovely yellow flower hat you can’t help but smile at.
We attempted to make a little time-lapse video showing the tea opening, however its not great as I didn’t fill the teapot up enough so I will do another one over the next few weeks.
For something extra, this is quite a funny article on flowering teas & how they can look less attractive to some people. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/22/flowering-tea-photos_n_4638479.html