Herbal tea blends are very popular in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The packages are usually transparent to observe the components and may contain ten or more small packages inside. These blends may or not contain tea. Seeds, fruits, leaves, flowers and rock sugar are very common. The packages are very attractive, colorful and are for short term storage; the tea blends must be used freshly for the best flavor and aroma. The teas can be enjoyed hot or cold.
Nice herbal tea package from China. On the bottom right it shows one of the small transparent package. The tea is called Chrysanthemum Tea, but it is a blend
The use of rock sugar (solid sugar) has the advantage of the slow dissolution; on the beginning the tea is not so sweet and will get sweeter as is being enjoyed. When refills of water are made the rock sugar continues to dissolve and tea continues to be sweet for longer time.This eliminates the need of keep adding sugar in each refill. The color of the rock sugar varies from transparent to dark brown, depending on the amount of refining.
Chrysanthemum tea blend. The Chrysanthemum flower is on the top left, clockwise two fruits, seven goji berries, rock sugar on the bottom and green tea leaves on the left
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.
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.
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.
Typical lavender teacup made with 2 teaspoons of tea, lemon and honey added.
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.
Chrysanthemum, is very popular floral tea in Asia. The first time I enjoyed this tea was in China then had many times in Taichung, Taiwan. Hangzhou in China is very famous for the production and use. The Chrysanthemum tea can be enjoyed hot or cold. Many times it is sweetened with honey or rock sugar.
The name Chrysanthemum in Greek means yellow golden flower (chrys+anthemon). There are many types of Chrysanthemum flowers; here I describe the most common tea used in Asia. The petals are light yellow and the multiple carpels are intense yellow.
Dried Chrysanthemum flowers from Hangzhou, China
The dry yellow flowers are very delicate and have distinct floral fragrance. The flowers must be handled and stored properly to avoid damage and oxidation. Usually the flowers are good for a year from the date of packaging. After this time they start to reduce the smell and the petals are released. The color changes from yellow to light brown.
To brew the tea, a small amount of flowers (about 10 to 20) are put in a medium teapot and washed briefly with water at 85-90° C (185-194° F). Then tea can brewed with water at 85-90° C. After 2-3 minutes of infusion the tea can be filtered, served in teacups and enjoyed. Sugar or honey can be added to the teapot in small quantities before adding the water. The teapot can be replenished three or more times; it is a tea that has good replenishment characteristics.
The Chrysanthemum tea can be enjoyed also in small cups
The tea has a distinct floral smell and taste is very subtle, it is naturally sweet, refreshing and relaxing. This tea is caffeine free. It can be enjoyed hot or cold as an all day tea or during meals.
Chrysanthemum flowers after brewing
The brewed flowers are so nice that we can enjoy the beauty of the pictures.
Another detailed picture of the tea flowers
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.