Our Tea Journal

 

Here you will find a compilation of all the stories we have to share about our experiences with herbs, teas, the Japanese Tea Ceremony and so much more. 

Please feel free to peruse them all and don't forget to like and leave a comment. 😊

Florals add a whimsical essence to culinary creations, and their added health benefits shouldn’t be underrated. Flowers have been a gastronomic delight for ages, and the practice continues today with chefs using petals to add pizzazz and unique flavours.


Whether steeped in lemonade, sprinkled on salads or candied for desserts, keep these 7 Botanical Food and Drink Ideas on hand for when you want to add an ambrosial - and medicinal - touch to your plate.


1. PASSIONFLOWER


Beautiful layers of deep purples, yellow, green and white, Passionflower is a nervine that acts therapeutically on the nervous system, calming and soothing nerves, easing tension and pain. A few years ago, I had strong, ongoing muscle spasms and pain in my neck. A farmer first recommended Passionflower tea and every day for a week, I drank a cup at sunset. Don’t expect a fruit flavour though; the tea is very mild. The pain didn’t fully go away, but the relaxation throughout my body was euphoric. Feeling worrisome, sleepless and tense? Make some tea and rest easy. Passionflower may be just the botanical ally you need!





2. PUMPKIN BLOSSOM




If you’ve grown pumpkin or squash in your garden, these delicate, slightly sweet, bright orange-yellow flowers will be familiar. They are also edible! Enjoy them lightly battered and fried, on pizza or added to salads. Stick to eating the male flowers so the pumpkin vine continues growing. Lightly coated in a chickpea flour batter, try this Pumpkin Blossom Fritters recipe with your favourite dipping sauce.


3. LAVENDER



Use sparingly in cooking.

These very small but plentiful violet flowers can quickly become overpowering if too much is added. Lavender is distinctly woody and fragrant, pairing well with sweet and savoury ingredients like chocolate, honey and thyme. Lavender scents are popular in aromatherapy, having a calming effect on the mind, body and spirit. But, I invite you to sip on this Lavender Lemonade made with fresh lemon juice and lavender honey.






4. ROSELLE



Family of the hibiscus, Roselle buds are green when young and turn bright red as they mature and open. The plant is said to be native to West Africa but can also be found growing in the West Indies and Asia. Jamaica sorrel drink is a popular, must have item during Christmas. The tart, fruity flavour is brewed with warming ginger, cloves, cinnamon and brown sugar (optional) to make a delicious, Vitamin C and antioxidant-rich beverage. Sorrel is also used to make jams, chutneys and ice cream!


5. ROSEMARY



You have to be quick but gentle to separate rosemary flowers from the tightly packed leaves. Both have a bold flavour. As staples in the kitchen, we infuse our favourite flowers and herbs into everyday meals in delicious, nutritious and tasty ways. Add a medicinal touch to infused water, herb roasted vegetables and salad dressings using rosemary.





6. CALENDULA



Known as the "poor man's saffron,” these sunset-hued flowers have tastes ranging from spicy to bitter to slightly tangy. Incorporate a few petals to brighten any bread, soup and cake; tint or add that yellow- pale orange colour to rice dishes and butters.


7. PURSLANE



In Jamaica, Purslane grows wild and is treated as a mere garden weed. It’s a succulent that produces flat, fleshy, edible green leaves. Soaring in popularity in the last few years, its biggest claim to nutritional fame is its omega-3 fat content, more than almost any other vegetable of its kind. Purslane provides an array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. There are tiny, yellow flowers that may also be eaten cooked or as is.



As seasons transition, gather the last bits of botanical bounty growing in your garden.

Drying herbs is an effective preservation method, giving you access to the herbs during colder months.


Things to Note:

1. Avoid pesticide-treated flowers.

2. Petals are the best parts of edible flowers. Remove the firm ends that tend to be bitter.

3. It’s typical - not a must - to remove the stamen and pistil.

26 views

There are certain flowers and plants that readily come to mind when one thinks about Japan.

The most popular being the cherry blossom i.e. sakura. However, just as the Spring brings with it the beautiful pink blossoms of the sakura, the season of Autumn also has its own bouquet of herbage which are indigenous not only to this particular time of the year but also to this region, especially to Japan.


In my exploration of the months of August and September within the Japanese Tea Master's Almanac (written by Sasaki Sanmi and translated to English by Shaun McCabe and Iwasaki Satoko), I found myself intrigued by the many ways in which the change in seasons are honoured and celebrated in the Japanese Tea Ceremony.


Namely, the recognition of the seven flowers/herbs of Autumn which are all utilised in some way within the ritual and preparation for the Mid-Autumn Moon-Viewing festivals which are held around the same times.


They are specifically identified as typical autumn flowers in a verse from the Man’yōshū (万葉集)

(“Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves”, a collection of Japanese poetry from the 8th century) writiten by the Japanese poet, Yamanoue Okura (山上億良), best known for his poems about children and commoners.


It is the oldest existing anthology of Japanese poetry.


The verse goes:

(Japanese Version) 秋の野に 咲きたる花を 指折り かき数ふれば 七種の花

萩の花 尾花 葛花 瞿麦の花 女郎花 また藤袴 朝貌の花


(Romaji Version) (Aki-no No-ni Sakitaru Hana-wo Oyobiori Kakikazoureba Nanakusa-no Hana)

(Hagi-no Hana Obana Kuzuhana Nadeshiko-no Hana Ominaeshi Mata Fujibakama Asagao-no Hana)


(English Version)

Flowers blossoming in autumn fields – when I count them on my fingers then they number seven

The flowers of hagi (bush clover), obana (eulalia), kuzu (arrowroot), nadeshiko (pink), ominaeshi (patrinia), also, fujibakama (mistflower) and asagao (morning face) flower.


These seven floral herbs primarily provide visual enjoyment rather than culinary with their simplistic beauty invoke much admiration. However, as you will see below, quite a few of them have been used in Traditional Chinese and Japanese Medicine for a very long time.



1. Japanese Dianthus – 撫子 (Nadeshiko)


The beauty of ‘Nadeshiko’ with its soft pink petals tops all other flowering plants in Manyoshu万葉集.


FUN FACT: The Japanese national women’s team (Yamato Nadeshiko) is also named after this flower.


2. Kudzu/ Pueraria Lobata/ Japanese Arrowroot – 葛 (Kuzu)


The name of ‘Kuzu’ came from the English name, ‘Kudzu.’ ‘Kuzu’ has various uses, such as food and medicine. When the root is dried, it becomes one of the traditional Chinese medicines used for the common cold and gastroenteritis.


3. ThoroughWort/ Eupatorium Fortunei – 藤袴(Fujibakama)


When dried, it has a strong sweet smell. Therefore, it is used for shampoo and perfume. That is why another name for this flower is ‘perfume flower’ (Kosuiran香水蘭).


4. Patrinia Scabiosifolia – 女郎花 (Ominaeshi )


The root and whole plant is effectively used in detoxication and pain relief in Chinese medicines.



5. Bellflower/ Balloon Flower/ Japanese Morning Glory – 桔梗 (Kikyo)

The English name is ‘Balloon Flower’ because it looks like a balloon. The dried roots are said to have a good effect on the respiratory system and alleviate coughing, so it is used in Chinese medicine.


6. Bush Clover (Hagi – 萩)


Hagi’ means the flower of autumn, which is why it has the Kanji character for ‘秋 – autumn included in its name.’


7. Japanese Pampas Grass – 尾花/薄 (Obana/Susuki)


This herb is quite famous in Japan since it is used as a decoration during Otsukimi or Mid-Autumn Moon viewings.








4 views

One of my favourite outlets for productive ‘procrastination’ and idea generation is my olfactory sense.

Mi love tings weh smell good.

My appetite for experiences that stimulate my senses of smell and taste has fertilised a blooming love for floral teas. At the moment, these are my 7 favourites and the aspects I love most about them.


1. Butterfly Pea (Clitoria ternatea)


She’s known as ‘blue tea’ in the streets. The women of the Asian continent (India and China especially) first introduced her to me. The intriguing blue shade of this tea becomes a gorgeous purple when you add lemon juice. The lore of her medicinal and cosmetic benefits are plenty, so I find her especially interesting to experiment with. Lucky for me, I live in the Caribbean where yuh goodly find butterfly pea growing on yuh auntie fence. Butterfly Pea flower tea is caffeine-free and is technically regarded as a tisane, rather than a 'true tea.’ Sipping blue tea feels like legit Goddess business.


Plus, with a scientific name like Clitoria, yuh jus'cyaa guh wrong.




2. Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)


Chamomile is a darling cousin of the daisy. She’s a classic relaxation and sleep aid, which also happens to support digestion (Source: Healthline). Chamomile tea is naturally sweet, has a memorable flavour, and a comforting fragrance. The key to a great cup of chamomile tea is finding the perfect steeping time for your taste. Mine is 4 minutes max. Any longer and its too bitter. I always have a stash in my kitchen. Chamomile is beautiful, reliable, and lovely ally to have around.




3. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)


Dandelion is one of those all-rounders...think the Shericka Jackson of flowers. The roots, flowers, and leaves each carry a unique brand of magic. It can support the body in combating inflammation, lowering blood pressure, and supporting the immune system (Source: WebMD and wise women of the ages). If you don't know better you’d think the plant is a useless weed. Given this long a** list of potential benefits, and the fact that it grows abundantly wild if you live near a dandelion patch, yuh bingo. The undeniably powerful yet unsuspecting energy of dandelion is my favourite aspect of this tea.




4. Elderflower (Sambucus nigra)


I discovered my love of elderflower in the form of 'holunder schorle,' a fizzy soft drink that I first encountered in Europe. Elderflower has a subtle, sweet, yet distinct taste and aroma that's like a sip of new spring air. "The ancient Celts believed a spirit lived in the elder who must not be angered, and it was often planted around homes for protection (especially against lightning). If you are a Harry Potter fan, you’ll know that a wand made of elder had the most powerful magic!" (Source: The Herbal Academy). Elderflower beverages inspire levity and lustre, which is why it’s one of my personal favourites.




5. Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa)

She goes by many names; Flor de Jamaica (Americas), Bissap (Senegal), Sobolo (Ghana), Zobo (Nigeria), Sorrel (Jamaica), and Roselle. Hibiscus sabdariffa flowers are native to Africa and grow in many tropical and subtropical regions around the world (Source: WedMD). The flowers come in a variety of colours, but the red ones are most frequently used in tea, which is tart to taste, best served with a toops of honey, and delicious hot or cold. The hibiscus flower is synonymous with the islands and is a popular folk remedy in tropical regions of the world. Island Gyal...we love a hibiscus. It's the inalienable way hibiscus connects us to Africa for me.



6. Jasmine (Jasminum)



The classic method of crafting a perfect jasmine tea is layering green tea leaves with jasmine blossoms, removing and replacing the flowers until their fragrance infuses the tea (Source: WebMD). What I love about jasmine is the tender care, presence and patience she demands in order for a grower to create a good blend. It's a majestic sensory experience. Jasmine is my go-to flower when I need a reminder that I'm a well of abundance, beauty, and pure magic.






7. Rose (Rosa)


The rose — a classic beauty and our granny's ‘go to’ flower — has been a quintessential symbol of love and femininity through the ages. She is an essential element of Traditional Chinese Medicine, where she’s regarded as a potential remedy for digestive problems, fatigue, mood swings, and menstrual cramps (Source: WebMD). This iconic flower makes a tea whose grace and decadence are difficult to rival.





Adventure Tip: explore which of these flowers you can get your hands on, and go get your 'G' on...'G'...being for Goddess, naturally. Brothers, don't be shy.

34 views