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Tea As An Ancient Art Form

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Tea As An Ancient Art Form

Mary Murkin

 

By, Lady Mary

Making and serving tea in beautiful, traditional ways is an art.  However, the tea itself has a place in the world of ancient art forms.   It is not every beverage that can make this claim!  I want to highlight a particular and very different form of tea that is considered functional art—flowering tea (aka blooming tea).

Sourced from the Yunnan province of China, flowering teas are painstakingly created by tea artisans and referred to as “liquid art.”  Historians have found mentions of flowering tea in Chinese literature, dating back centuries.  One early writing suggests that flowering teas were used during the Song Dynasty to entertain the Emperor (960 AD - 1279 AD). 

The making of flowering teas is itself an art form.  The artisan begins by sewing together different flowers and petals to form a unique floral piece that does not even exist in real life.  Traditionally, the flowers used for this are varied, but can include jasmine, chrysanthemum, globe amaranth, lily, acanthus, carnation or marigold.  Premium green tea leaves are hand-wrapped and stitched together around the base of the flower petals.  These flowers and tea leaves are then hand-formed into the shape of a little ball (or pearl) about an inch in diameter and tied with cotton thread and dried.  The threads are removed before packaging the pearls for distribution.

Flowering tea is usually prepared in a heat-proof, transparent vessel which allows you to see its complete transformation.  As the tea ball steeps and unfurls in boiling water, a beautiful flower appears to bloom before your eyes—there is something magical about this peaceful wonder.  The tea leaves brew in the water as the flowers inside emerge as the centerpiece—creating a delicious, delicate floral green tea.  This transformation time varies between 5 and 10 minutes.  Each blossom makes four to six cups of tea, and can be brewed up to three times.

It is rarely the case that something so simple and quiet can bring such delight to the on looker.   Take the time to enjoy a flowering tea with a friend or two.  You’ll be glad you did!

(To see several blooming teas in action, take a peek at this short YouTube video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnH3EAES8_8 .)

Keep sipping…….and as always:  “Bottom’s up!”