• Chrysanthemum Sunshine

Chrysanthemum Sunshine

Last year, I had an interesting guest at my holiday soiree - a Mexican gentleman who lived in China for two years, and just moved to Canada and founded a tea company, Dao Tea. Pedro was backpacking and scouting the mountains China and Korea for fine handcrafted teas. His mission is simple yet profound: to connect with tea masters and farmers in small tea gardens, and bring to Canada and Mexico fine teas that are crafted sustainably and with great care. He told me about his chrysanthemum tea, harvested by a lady who is about 90 years old. Her face is covered with wrinkles and she picks wild chrysanthemums from the mountains that tastes alive and fresh like a spring morning.

Last week, I met Pedro again at another function - Vancouver Foodster Magazine's 1st year anniversary event. His assistant Akiko was serving no other than this very tea, iced and sweetened a bit, garnished with a fresh spearmint leaf. It blew my mind away. There was nothing musty, dirty or earthy about it like you would find with most chrysanthemum teas (these are made from the cultivated flowers). It was intensely floral, sweet, and with a minty quality to it that makes you happy - like fresh spearmint from the garden and a meadow full of daisies.

Pedro gave me a bag to take home and when I opened the bag my mind was blown again. If I thought that the minty sweetness was from the spearmint or the little sugar added - I was mistaken. These little flowers, which look exactly like daisies or large chamomile flowers, were intensely fragrant and sweet. When brewed - they bloomed in the teapot and their aroma was also quite sweet and a tad minty (and that is with no sugar or mint added).

These little flowers are surprisingly potent, and unlike most herbal teas, can be re-steeped up to three times. It's a beautiful, relaxing tea, and it's nice on its own, either warm or chilled. The added spearmint is a brilliant idea and I will be serving this at my Midsummer Tea Party this Sunday.

The fruit of Pedro's labour is a growing selection of fine teas, of which I have only had the opportunity to taste two so far. I will tell you more about these teas as I get acquainted with this inspiring line. In the meantime... the website provides for fascinating stories about the tea masters, the terrain where each tea was made, and even the coordinates where the tea was grown and prepared. The motto of the company is "A cup can say a lot". Each tea tells the story of its terroire, the hands that tended to the plants and prepared the tea. And the intermediary is a genuine person who traveled the distance to get to know these places and the people behind the teas. It makes for an authentic and heightened tea experience, on all levels.

Wild Chrysanthemum tea is wild harvested in Qiao Ban village (Zhejiang province, China) by Tea Masters Zhan Zimei and Wen Xinzgou. To purchase online and for more information, including tips for a multi-sensorial tea experience, visit DaoTea.ca

October 19, 2010 edit:
Here's a video showing where the flowers come from, the couple harvesting it and how they are roasting them.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
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