Friday, August 28, 2009

Chinese Iced Tea

Behold, floral, yummy BLISS. I have no idea why it's taken me so long to make this, but I know I'll be making it again soon!!
Chrysanthemum tea is very popular in Hong Kong, both for its health benefits and for its great taste. As you can see in the photo above, it's nothing more than water and dried flowers. Kinda pretty, isn't it?
Chrysanthemum tea is served unsweetened in most tea houses and dim sum parlors. However, it can also be bought in little boxes, like our juice boxes, complete with straws and enough sugar to satisfy even the pickiest of third graders. The second beverage is what I was setting out to recreate.
(One warning - when I finished steeping my tea, it was a lovely, rich yellow, just as I was used to. When I returned to the tea a few hours hard turned a rich, emerald GREEN. Even the flowers, still sitting in the strainer in the sink, had turned green. Just didn't want anyone to get scared when their iced tea goes leprechaun on them!)
Aunt LoLo's Iced Chrysanthemum Tea
You'll need:
A soup pot full of water
1/2 cup dried chrysanthemums (available at any Chinese grocery or medicine shop)
Rock sugar, to taste. (I used a block about the size of my fist...I suppose that would be about 1 cup of white sugar?)
Combine everything in your pot, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and simmer until everything tastes right and the sugar is dissolved, about 7-9 minutes.
Pour the contents of your pot into a metal sieve placed over a large heat-safe bowl. Allow the tea to cool, and then put it in a pitcher in the refrigerator.
The flowers can be re-used if you like: refill your pot with water, put the flowers back in with sugar, and make a second pot of tea. I wouldn't recommend waiting too long between batches - you don't want your flowers to mildew! I made up two pots, and by my calculations it cost me about $2, total. I made this tea very sweet, in homage to my Alabama heritage, but you can add as little or as much sugar as you like. Also, this tea is very good for you. It is "cooling", meaning that if you are "heaty", as a result of lack of sleep or over indulgence in junk foods, this tea will help to balance that out. Symptoms of being too "heaty" are a swollen tongue, canker sores, bad breath and breakouts on your face.
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  1. Nummy! I think I'm going to go make a glass right now...

  2. I love the juice box sweetened chrysanthemum teas! I'm used to drinking certain teas unsweetened at chinese restaurants after years and years of drinking it like that as I was growing up. I still will gravitate towards the sweet teas though. :)

    I need to go to my asian grocer to get black lychee tea to make iced tea with.

  3. Sounds good. So where do you find rock sugar? And where is the nearest Chinese grocery store?