Saturday, August 20, 2011
Flowers For Tea
If you want to jazz up a tea party, you might consider turning it into a mystery. At http://www.mysteryteaparties.com/ you can either download or order print copies of directions for all you need to do one. There is a big selection and it really looks like a fun thing to do. A second idea I have seen is Teago or Tea Time Bingo, where things associated with tea are used instead of numbers to play a Bingo like game. Check it out at http://www.teatimebingo.com/ .
Did you know that Dartmouth College serves tea every day? Yup, it’s been happening there for over 80 years and everyone on campus is free to drop in. It is served in the English department’s library. Robert Frost once sipped here. A professor and librarian of the college, Edwin David Sanborn, started the tradition by inviting students to his home for tea and literary discussions. His son bequeathed money to build the English department and library, specifically with a tiny kitchen in which to prepare tea, plus funds for the purchase of tea and cookies, which has been happening since 1929. Students are the tea hosts and it is all very informal, but the tea is loose, cups and saucers and lemon slices abound. I think other schools should follow their example.
Today's tea is really a tisane, that is, it does not come from the tea plant, Camellia sinensis. It is Globe Amaranth from Fuzhou, China. I purchased it in our local Chinese grocery. Globe Amaranth is very familiar to gardeners who raise the flowers for dried arrangements and potpourri. This version is the purpley pink one and it looks a lot like clover. Most of the flowerheads are intact and give off a slightly tangy fragrance.
I brewed the tisane twice, following instructions to use water at about 200 degrees for 3 minutes the first time and 4 the second. The first infusions was a very pale pink, with a mild vegetable scent. The taste was also mild, sharp, a little sweet and vaguely floral, quite pleasant. The second brew was definitely more pink, with a medicinal smell. It was mostly sharp, like a mild soft hibiscus.
Globe Amaranth is considered a health tea and is used to prevent aging, stop coughs and asthma, help the liver and is good for the skin. I often wonder how one herb can cover such a wide variety of bodily functions. I think it would be a nice drink, pretty to look at. I am not a lot into herbal medicine, although I am intrigued by it. The multiple, often very different, properties claimed for them tends to put me off.