Classical Chinese Herbal Tea

Chinese Herbal tea with a colorful mixture of dried fruits, seeds, flowers and sugar

Herbal teas are very common in China. They are also available in tea houses or for purchase in small packages with a particular blend. A typical tea will have dried flowers, seeds, fruits and leaves (including pine needles). Sometimes it contains rock sugar (solid pieces of sugar) as observed in the picture above. Most of them are caffeine-free. The tea is brewed with hot water in this cup where the lid is put on the top to keep it hot. After drinking the tea, it is replenished with hot water few times. It is usual to eat the fruits after drinking the tea. Some fruits are sweet and others are bitter.
These teas are aromatic and refreshing. Each one has a peculiar aroma and taste, which makes the tea experience always unique.

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The Bright Crimson Tea: Hibiscus, Roselle, Jamaica, Karkade, etc…

A freshly brewed Hibiscus tea with the characteristic crimson color. On the side two Hibiscus calyxes.

The calyxes of Hibiscus sadbariffa, or simply Hibiscus are used to make a crimson (deep red color) tea. The Hibiscus tea has different names and is consumed hot or cold in many parts of the world.
Few years ago had the opportunity to work in Mexico and tasted the Agua de Jamaica which always fascinated me for the deep crimson color and the fabulous taste. It is a refreshing tea, with the proper balance of acidity. In Mexico it is served cold with sugar and a drop of lime juice. Later I found this tea in Singapore, where it is called Roselle and have enjoyed hot, the form which I prefer. Found the same tea in Cairo, where is called karkade and is sold on the streets competing with the black tea.
The Hibiscus calyxes can be used alone or in mixtures in many herbal teas.

Here we have three Hibiscus calyxes. These are typical size, about 2.5 cm wide and 3.5 cm long.

It’s Turkish Tea Time!


Here we have a classical setup for the Turkish Tea: Tulip tea, two sugar cubes, Turkish delight and the two stacked kettles for brewing the tea.

The Turkish tea (çay) is a medium bodied golden brown black tea. It is prepared in a two stacked kettle (çaydanlık). Usually cold water is put in the lower kettle until boiling, then some water is transferred to the top kettle where the black tea is added and mixed. The two kettles go back to the stove in low heat. After brewing for ten minutes some tea from the top kettle is poured to the tulip cup (usually half cup). Hot water from the bottom kettle is added to fill the cup. The use of the concentrated tea and hot water allows to obtain different tea strengths according to the taste. This technique has many variations, and sometimes water is replenished in one or both kettles to get better tea usage. Traveling in Turkey is not uncommon to drink more than 20 tulip cups of tea in a day. It is refreshing and delicious every time.