Flowering teas or blooming teas are a Chinese creation and quite an interactive one, since the decoction literally flowers and transmutes from a small green ball into a vibrant and fully delineated flower, directly into your cup or teapot.
The ‘pod,’ which is like a small bulb, consists of a bundle of dried green tea leaves, which serves as the basis for the flowering tea wrapped around one or more dried flowers. These are made by binding tea leaves and flowers together into a bulb and then leaving them to dry.
When placed into boiling water, the bundle expands and unfurls in a process that mimics a blooming flower, while the flowers inside emerge as a centrepiece. Flowering tea is generally served in containers made of glass, or other transparent material, so that the flowering effect can be seen. The bundles can usually be reused two or three times without the tea becoming bitter.
In this way, one not only enjoys the delicacy of the tea and mellowness of flowers, but also appreciates the beauty of natural life, not to mention having a great and innovative drink to serve at the closure of a meal to guests one wants to impress!
The choice of material used in flowering teas is very important, in order to create this specific ‘special effect’. First of all, the tea buds need to be perfectly dried and placed in a way so as to hug the flower bud in their middle. Secondly, it is imperative that the fresh flowers used should be picked in their entirety and should be totally dehydrated (air-dried or machine-dried), in order for the flower tea to be of good quality.
The most important process is that known as ‘binding.’ When the materials are ready, workers select specialised needles and use cotton thread to bind the tea buds and flowers together in prescribed floral arrangements designed to unfurl when in contact with hot water. The bottom of the tea is bundled, then the dehydrated flower or flowers are arranged in the middle and covered with the tea buds. At the end, the top is also sown. The varying shapes of flower teas require different sewing methods.
The secret of the blossoming flowers is to be found in the tiny spaces created between the hydrated petals, as well as between the tea buds and the flowers, in the binding process. When the tea comes into contact with hot water, air fills these spaces, causing them to expand because of the heat, thereby resulting in the unfurling of the flower buds.
The most well-known flowers used in these kind of teas are the yellow Chrysanthemum, the Jasmine, the Lily, the Marigold, the Carnation, the Rose, and the Globe Amaranth, which are well known, especially in China, to possess beneficial attributes which can improve one’s health.