Tea Writings

A blog about tea from the desk of Cecilia Tan

Lychee Flower

February 18, 2010 By: ctan Category: Tea Reviews

In my seeming never-ending search for a tea I liked as much as the lychee green they brew and sell at the famous tea house in the lake in Shanghai, which I visited in April 2007, when I was in San Francisco last summer I picked up some “lychee blossom” at the Imperial Tea Court (Ferry Bldg. location).

Here’s Imperial Tea Court’s description: A new addition to our flower tea collection, this beauty features a red lychee flower waiting to blossom inside a surrounding flower of green tea. Subtly scented with jasmine and flavored with lychee fruit, this stunning tea will display beautifully in a glass teapot.

It took me a while to get around to brewing this tea because I didn’t have a glass pot and kept not getting around to buying one, and beautiful flowering teas are maximally enjoyed when one can see them. But then I received one for Christmas! The other thing is I usually like to brew a flowering tea when I have a friend over for tea so we can both enjoy the sight, but I’ve been so busy lately I finally decided to just try it for myself.

I’ve had flowering teas before of various kinds and so I decided this time to photograph the process. What follows are the photos of the tea opening:

Pot and flowering tea ball ready to go. This is the lychee blossom from Imperial Tea Court in San Francisco. The pot I received as a Christmas gift this past year. Water was at about 195 degrees.

Here we go! After 10 seconds in the water, there’s very little effect.

Now we’re at 60 seconds of steeping. The water is still crystal clear, but the leaves are starting to open.

Another shot at 60 seconds, showing the open leaves from the side. Don’t let the amber light in this shot here fool you, the water is still not colored at all.

Now at 2 minutes. The flower is almost fully opened, but the tea is still not ready to drink. I tasted it as well as judging the non-existent color, and it was pretty much just water.

Now at 3 minutes. The flower is fully opened and there is maybe a really slight coloration in the water if you look REALLY hard. Some flavor but still too mild for most tastes. (And I like my tea really mild and understeeped.)

Side shot at 3 minutes of steeping time.

Now around 5 minutes, the leaves are completely open. The tea’s flavor is still really subtle, though. On the other hand, the flavor is good and not “oversteeped” so the flower can be left in the pot all while being drunk, and enjoyed visually for the entire time.

This is after about 20 minutes. The tea is showing plenty of color now and the flavor was mild and enjoyable. The lychee flavor was slight and the tea flavor sweet and vegetal. A beautiful tea to share with a friend over unhurried conversation.

Yes, in the end, it was quite a delicious tea, with a subtle lychee flavor and mostly the mild artichoke-heart flavor I associate with these green tea “flowers.” It still wasn’t as good as the lychee green I brought back from Shanghai, but I will definitely brew it for a friend if the chance arises!

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