文 By: 許玉蓮 Hooi Yoke Lien
Handcrafted flower teas are a combination of tealeaves and flowers. Tealeaves and edible flowers are meticulously bundled so that each unfurls into unique artful shape when it is steeped in water. The flavor and aroma of both tealeaves and flowers are released into the infusion. Handcrafted flower teas should be differentiated from scented tea. Scented tea has gone through a special scenting process whereby tealeaves take in the aroma of fresh flowers mixed into them. The flowers are then removed when the aroma is fully absorbed. When the process is completed, the aroma would have penetrated deep into each strand of tealeaves.
Most handcrafted flower teas use tender buds of needle-shaped green tea as the raw ingredients. As for the flowers, the popular choices are amaranth, marigold, carnation and jasmine. The tealeaves and flowers are tied up to form artisanal bundles shaped like bouquet or pellets.
Handcrafted flower teas can be divided into three types, according to the way they unfurl and the visual appeal they offer. The ‘blooming’ first type opens up and reveals slowly the flowers positioned at the centre of the bundle as it steeps in water. The ‘rising’ type has the flowers rising from the enwrapping tealeaves as it brews. The ‘showering’ type has tiny floral bits floating out from the centre of the bundle then slower showering down.
Quality handcrafted flower teas feature fine, even strips of leaf with clear texture. The base is well-shaped and balanced. The colour of the flower should match that of the tea infusion. When unfurled, the tealeaves should have a neat and well-formed shape. The flowers inside should be bright in colour and the blooms should be unbroken and open up comfortably.
Special features of handcrafted flower tea: brew with water at about 80 ° C. The tea will become bitter if the water temperature is too high. The tea bundle sinks as it absorbs water. As the tea buds unfurl , the decorative flowers inside slowly open up. It is indeed a captivating sight when the entire bouquet blooms in the glass or teapot. The process should be over in about three minutes. The infusion gives a crisp, refreshing fragrance with a distinct floral note and a hint of bitterness.