Still life by Ambrosius Bosschaert (1573–1621)
While the common green and black tea is popular, it is by no means the only herb or flower that can prepare a good cup. Flowers not only add joy and beauty to fields and gardens but many are full of medicinal value too. A huge number of flowers are edible and many make an excellent tea from fresh or dried flowers. Very many have excellent health giving and tonic properties too and a few have been discussed in earlier articles of this blog. Prepared with a proper selection and process it may be regarded as the tea of the gods.
A floral tea may be prepared from a single flower or a mix of two or more. While a few floral teas are available in the market, it is a better idea to prepare your own from flowers you have grown and picked yourself and discover your own mix just as long as you know which flowers are edible and pleasant in tea. Try different flowers that grow in your area to see the ones you like best. You may search for its medicinal properties easily on google by using the key words 'medicinal uses' along with the name of flower. Following is a list of some flowers that have been regarded as edible in many parts and may be dried to make a tea. This list is not exhaustive but a good place to start for someone keen to explore floral teas.
Citrus Tree Blossoms
If you have access to wild flowers from forest or fields that is even better because such flowers are healthier than garden grown ones just as long as you ensure that it is an edible flower. Garden soils tend to get depleted of some essential nutrients over time. To dry your own flowers, pick fresh blooms when the sun is up, wash and leave to dry for a few hours on a clean sheet in a shaded place. Check that they are fully dry by crushing some to ensure they are crisp to the core. The process may take up to four weeks depending on the flower. When the flowers have become crisp to the touch, turn them around while crushing lightly with your fingers. Leave for a few more days to ensure complete drying. Once dry, store in a container with a tight lid. However, if you have access to a food dehydrator then the drying can be done in a matter of hours. Use a temperature setting as for vegetables.
To prepare the tea, bring water to boil in a pot. You may add a stick of cinnamon to the water while boiling. Now place a heaping table spoon (for two cups) of the dried flowers in a tea pot and pour on it the boiling water. Leave it to infuse for at least five minutes and pour out cups of tea to serve. One may add sugar to sweeten but it is a shame to add a chemical thing to such a lovely tea. For it to be truly the tea of the gods, use honey instead. If it is cold winter evening and you are not averse to drinking alcohol then consider adding a couple of tablespoons of whiskey to the tea just as Queen Victoria used to.