Lavender (Lavandula) Tea

The lavender, also called Lavandula tea is a very fragrant and aromatic tea, made with lavender flowers. It is usually mixed with green, black or other herbal teas. As the tea is prepared by adding the boiling water to the flowers a nice fragrance can be perceived in the whole room; it is one of the most fragrant teas. One or two teaspoons per cup of boiling water are sufficient to prepare a tea.

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The dried fragrant lavender flowers have the characteristic pink-violet color, which is also called lavender color

When used alone as lavender tea it is slightly bitter, for this reason usually honey and lemon is added. When lemon (or other acid fruit juice) is added the color changes from pale yellow to pink as is illustrated below. This tea can be enjoyed hot or cold. It is a great summer tea! The pictures below are from a tea package I bought in Taiwan, where the use is very common.

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Brewed lavender flowers. The tea color is pale yellow.

The common lavender species  is called Lavandula angustifolia, also called English lavender. Most probably the name lavender comes from the Latin  lavāre, of  lavō, to wash. In the old days the lavender flowers infusions were added to the water to wash the clothes to give a scent. The word lavender and its variations is used in many languages (e.g. French: lavande; German: lavandel; Spanish: lavanda). In Portuguese lavender is called alfazema, a word with Arabian origin.

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Typical lavender teacup made with 2 teaspoons of tea, lemon and honey added.

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Brewed lavender tea. The neat tea with pale yellow color is on the left. The same tea with lemon juice is on the right. There is a nice color change with the addition of lemon.

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Hu Xin Ting Tea House, Yu Garden, Shanghai. A traditional tea experience

The Hu Xin Ting (Huxing Ting) is probably the oldest teahouse in China. It is situated on the middle of a pond in the Yu Garden area (Yu Yuan Garden) in Shanghai.

The Hu Xin Ting Tea House is a landmark in Shanghai.

The name Hu Xin Ting means lake pavilion. Last month I had the opportunity to be there early morning to appreciate a nice green tea, have a quite time and take few pictures. During the day the place gets very crowded and there is a long waiting time for tea, particularly during the Summer months. The most popular teas are the Jasmin and flower teas. There is a small shop on the front where teas, cups, teapots and sets are sold at a reasonably good price.

Since 1996 I had the opportunity to visit few times this tea house. It seems that no change happened. The tea quality and service are excellent with the perfect atmosphere.The Hu Xin Ting is the must go place for tea aficionados.It has the quality and tradition needed to make it a unique experience.

The tea house is on the pond, connected to land with the Bridge of Nine Turnings. The pond has red and yellow carps plus lotus.The building has different sections with nice set ups and decorations. The round and rectangular tables are made of rose wood with marble tops. The open space provide a nice view of the small lake and garden.

The green tea is served with hot water directly to the leaves, not an optimal condition for brewing the green tea. The bottle of hot water is available for refill. The snacks are a mixture of sweet/sour dried fruits, hard salty tofu squares and quail eggs, which are a typical Chinese delicacy.

Traditional green tea setup. The snacks are quail eggs, dried fruits and squares of hard tofu. The rose wood and marble have been seasoned by the tea through the years.

The blue and white contrasts nicely with the red color of the walls, windows and surrounding buildings

Traditional Chinese Green Tea

Here is a simple and traditional way to prepare the Green tea. This method is the most widely used thorough China.

Tea: Long Jing, China
Cup: Glass 180 ml (6 oz)
Water temperature: 160-180 F

The Long Jing leaves are either single or double. It has no petiole. The leaves are delicate and have a distinct smell.

The Long Jing tea is one of my favorite teas. It has very defined aroma and taste.
A transparent glass cup or glass jar is used to display the nice color and characteristics of the brew. A teaspoon of Long Jing tea is added to the cup, and hot water is added just enough to cover the leaves. Let stand for 3 to 5 minutes to soak the leaves.

Here the leaves are being soaked with water at 160F for 5 minutes.

Only a small amount of water is used on the cup to soak the leaves. Full addition of water in the beginning will make the tea bitter and make the leaves to float.
After soaking the leaves add water at 160 to 180 F to fill the cup.

The first hot water addition to the cup. The leaves go to the top and then bottom

After the full addition of water the leaves will start to move, going first to the top, then to the bottom. If the leaves stay mostly on the top is because the soaking was not enough or the tea leaves are too dry, requiring longer soaking time. Most of the time few leaves are on the top when we start to drink the tea. Just blow the leaves gently to the other side of the cup and start sipping the tea.

Now tea leaves are on the bottom. Tea is ready to be savoured. Enjoy!

Drink the tea slowly leaving one third of the tea on the cup. Do not drink to the bottom!

Now it’s time for the first refill. Add hot water to the cup, wait a bit until the leaves settle again to the bottom and enjoy the first tea refill.

Here is the first refill. The tea is still very enjoyable and can be refilled again.

Now drink the tea leaving one third of the volume and refilling with hot water. Usually the tea can be refilled up to 8 times during the day, from morning to the afternoon. The tea becomes lighter, but still enjoyable during the refills.

OPTIONAL CUP

Instead of using a glass cup, a transparent jar can also be used. Several jars can be used: from fruit preserves, instant coffee, jelly, etc. The larger volume makes more convenient to drink thorough the day. Most of the time a lid is put on the jar to avoid spill and contamination. It also looks nice. On the Tea Gallery China there are pictures of different cups and glass jars used in China on the daily life.

A medium size preserves jar with 2 cups capacity (0.5 liters) is a good size

This is just the beginning of the Long Jing experience. It has a defined leaf aroma, slightly sweet and very smooth taste which makes this tea simple unforgettable.