Friday, January 7, 2011

an unexpected tea gift

The last tea I wrote about was Spring in Paris, and this next cup feels like Spring in Japan! I recently had lunch with a childhood friend that was in town, who moved back to Japan when we were 13.  She knew I was a tea lover, and gave me a gift of Sweet Sakura Tea.  Such a thoughtful gift! Sakura are beautiful Japanese cherry blossoms. I had never seen this tea before, and research didn't uncover much. I did learn that the blossoms are often blended with green or black tea.  But my tea is just the Sakura, and nothing else. Extra special! There is a website for the tea, where I was able to find brewing instructions.

leaves before steeping

Upon opening the foil bag that contain the 'tea', I was immediately hit with a strong, tart scent, very similar to umeboshi plum. I was very curious, so I tasted one of the petals. Exactly like a pickled ume!  Extremely salty, sour, and a little bit sweet.  I brewed the leaves according to the website using very hot, but not boiling water. After steeping the tea for a few minutes, the aroma was exactly the same as the scent of the blossoms. The taste is a different story.  It is very weak. Slightly floral and salty, with a subtle flavor of a pickled fruit, possibly apricot, or raisin, in the background.  I left it to steep for another 10 minutes or so, and it tastes slightly stronger, with the same pickled fruit flavor, and floral notes towards the back.

after adding hot water!
Watching the blossoms expand in the water is a beautiful experience.  The sight of dainty pale pink flowers brought springtime to this cold, snowy day. I enjoyed spending a few minutes watching  the blossoms as they opened in the water.  A peaceful, restorative activity.

Not sure that this is something I'd want to drink all the time, but it is an unexpected treat.  I am so grateful for this special gift!

This tea has inspired today's new National Hot Tea Month suggestion- give someone you know an unexpected tea gift!