Today marks another first for us: our first blooming tea review! Teavana fans might already been familiar with this unique artisan tea from China. If you aren’t, here’s a quick lesson.
Blooming tea combines traditional tea leaves (usually green or white) with flowers such as osmanthus, jasmine, lilies, marigolds, and globe amaranths. The leaves and flowers are sewn together, then rolled and shaped into a ball and held together by cotton threads. When the tea ball is immersed in hot water, it unfurls to reveal its colorful blossoms. Hence the tea’s namesake. ;) Click here to learn more about blooming tea.
Our friends at Teasenz volunteered to send two blooming tea samples for review. The first one we’ll cover is Oriental Beauty Blooming Tea, a refreshing mix of floral and fruit flavors. And because this is blooming tea, I took some photos to go along with the review! You can view larger versions of each one by double-clicking on them.
Teasenz’s Description: “An artistically hand-tied blooming tea from Fujian Province with floral fresh taste and a truly unique appearance. Brew this blooming tea in a glass teapot or teacup and witness a natural wonder unfolding. Made from delicate flowers and silver needle white tea leaves.”
Ingredients: Green tea leaves, globe amaranth, jasmine, lily, and silver needle white tea leaves
Steeping Instructions: Use 1 blooming tea ball for every 8 oz of water. Heat water to boiling (212 degrees Fahrenheit / 100 degrees Celsius) and steep for 3 to 4 minutes.
Multiple Brews?: 4 to 5 times
Bagged or Loose Leaf?: Loose leaf
Caffeine Level: High
A blooming tea ball looks a lot like a jasmine pearl, with one noticeable difference: It’s huge! This Oriental Beauty fits in the palm of my hand, and is about the size of a U.S. silver dollar or a grape tomato. It’s also gorgeous in appearance: dark green, silver, and white strands, with bits of bright pink and yellow in between. The ball’s thread-like exterior feels silky-smooth, yet the ball itself doesn’t give when gently squeezed.
When dry, Oriental Beauty doesn’t have a real fragrance. I pick up hints of grass (green tea), flowers, and hay (Silver Needle white tea) if I hold the ball up to my nose. My guess is those scents will become more pronounced once the tea has brewed. Which makes sense, considering the brewing process is the true reason for enjoying blooming tea.
A glass vessel is the ideal brewing method for blooming tea. I steeped Oriental Beauty in a Pagoda Glass Teapot from Teavana, which comes with a removable glass strainer where the blooming tea ball sits. To prepare the tea, I poured boiling water from a stovetop-safe teapot into the glass teapot, inserted the strainer with the Oriental Beauty ball inside, and closed the lid. Then I let the tea steep for 4 minutes – and watched it unfurl! The photo below shows Oriental Beauty fully bloomed, just before pouring.
The first cup of Oriental Beauty justifies the tea’s name well. The pale golden yellow infusion carries a floral fragrance with traces of fruit. I can’t pinpoint which flowers or fruits it reminds me of until I take a few sips…
Wow. Oriental Beauty may be delicate, but it’s full of flavor. It’s got the exotic tang of jasmine, the hay essence of Silver Needle, a peach-like juiciness, and traces of pineapple – a summery and delicious combination. Texture-wise, it’s smooth and light, with a meditative airiness. The finish emphasizes the fruit flavors without a cloying sweetness, and leaves a slight dryness on the tongue.
I let the Oriental Beauty flower sit in the glass teapot as I savored Steep #1. And I’m thrilled I did that, because I liked Steeps #2 and #3 even more! The liquid had turned a beautiful amber-orange, and the peach and floral flavors were more prominent. Even better, the tea hadn’t turned bitter or developed too dry of a mouthfeel. White tea normally does either (or both) when you oversteep it, so this was a wonderful surprise. I wonder if that’s the case for all blooming teas.
Once I was ready to clean the glass teapot, I transferred the flower to a tall glass mug filled with cold, filtered water. (The above photo shows Oriental Beauty at its full “height,” about 1 inch tall.) After 10 minutes, I realized the mug water had changed in color from clear to amber. The flower still had infusing power left – and the flavor profile, though somewhat subdued by now, was still sweet and refreshing! This would be delectable as an iced tea.
I never expect a tea to shatter my expectations when I try it for the first time – but Teasenz’s Oriental Beauty did so in a subtly succulent way. Its flavor profile strikes a fine balance between floral, fruit, and white tea; and it’s delightful for multiple brews. Not to mention you can’t overlook the exquisite craftsmanship of the tea ball and the flower that unfurls when immersed. This truly is a tea to behold during all phases of the brewing process. If you haven’t tried blooming tea before, there’s no better choice to start with than Oriental Beauty.
Grade: 10 / 10
- Tea Drinkers Who: Like blooming teas, or delicate green, white, or floral teas
- Time of Day and Year: Afternoons and evenings in the spring or summer
- Possible Book Pairings: Oriental Beauty’s personality reminds me of middle grade fantasy stories, where childhood innocence and the whimsicality of magic often battle it out against the forces of evil. Try this tea with Laini Taylor’s Blackbringer or Phillp Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, starting with The Golden Compass.
You can purchase Oriental Beauty Blooming Tea directly from Teasenz here.
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In addition to being a tea enthusiast, Sara Letourneau is an avid reader and a writer who… well, enjoys writing! Currently she’s working on a novel, and she writes book reviews and articles on the craft of writing. She’s also a published poet with works available in various print and online publications. Visit Sara at her personal blog, Facebook, or Twitter.
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