Also known as blooming tea.
A bundle of dried tea leaves wrapped around one or more dried flowers. The tea is generally prepared in glass containers so the opening up (or 'flowering') of the tea can be observed. Most of the flowering teas can be reused 2-3 times.
What is blooming tea?
Blooming tea is a masterfully bundled ball of tea leaves and flowers that “bloom” when placed in hot water. Blooming tea comes from China, mostly Yunnan or Fujian. Both Yunnan and Fujian are important producers of Chinese white tea. Blooming teais usually made with green, white or black tea, although white is the most common one. The choice of flowers is very versatile. From small and fragrant jasmine, beautiful globe amaranth and traditional chrysanthemum to tiny osmanthus. All of them are traditional Chinese flowers, often used in Traditional Chinese medicine.
What are other names for blooming tea?
The other popular name for blooming tea is flowering tea. Placed in hot water tea balls expand into little arrangements with a flower in the middle, resembling a bouquet. Before specialty tea became widely available, artisan tea was the name commonly linked to blooming tea. Over the last few years this term became widely applicable to different loose leaf teas, not only the blooming ones. Today, artisan teas are all specially crafted small-batch teas, but this name is still more than suitable for handmade blooming tea.
The other names for blooming tea are art tea, display tea, craft tea, artistic tea and flower tea. However, don’t confuse flower tea with pure flower teas. In fact, flowering tea is a part of flower tea category.
The history of blooming tea
History of blooming tea is still uncertain. Some argue it has appeared only recently, about 20 years ago. Many sources say Yunnan is the home of blooming tea. Yunnan has a long history in compressing tea, which might have been a good trigger for produce this unique style. Others say the history might be long, although there is no real evidence. Even in China, blooming tea is quite a new trend. It is so new that many Chinese people still didn't hear about it. As Dana Scully would say, the truth is out there.
How do you make blooming tea?
Blooming tea contains buds or young leaves. For white blooming tea buds are hand-picked, then withered and dried. To give a perfect bouquet shape, leaves need to look like a needle. After the initial drying, buds are bundled up, bud on bud, and tightly wrapped with a cotton thread. Flowers are then sewn in the middle. The next step is tightly wrapping leaves and flowers in cotton cloth to make small balls. They need another round of drying to be ready for brewing.
Skillfulness of the producer makes a difference between exceptionally beautiful and messy tea full of floating particles. Even skilled workers cannot make than a few dozen of tea balls per day. Therefore, one blooming tea ball might costs more than 3 oz of loose leaf tea.
Just as with any other type of tea, there is good and bad blooming tea. Some blooming teas contain only pure buds, some contain young leaves, and some are even broken. White tea is the most commonly used type, followed by green. Oolong is rarely used in blooming teas, while pu’er is commonly compressed with other flowers into a regular flower tea.
Blooming tea and health benefits
Every tea has certain benefits. Western scientists are mostly excluding flower teas from their plans and focusing on real Camellia sinensis tea. Most research is still done on animals, not on humans. Although tea shows huge benefits on health, unfortunately they all belong to a grey zone. Flower teas are still less interesting in science, but this is where the alternative herbal medicine is taking over. It’s sometimes even called floral medicine, showing that flowers can be good healers as well. Flowers are not only important in China. Rose, marigold and dandelion are only some of the flowers used in folk medicine in India and Sri Lanka.
For more information on various health benefits of blooming/flowering tea, see Blooming Tea Health Benefits here