A few years ago we published an article about making Lotus Tea by Hanoi's West Lake. This described the usual way that 'real' Lotus Tea is made by blending tea with the fragrant anthers that have been separated from freshly picked Lotus Flowers. It is a time consuming task and after the blended tea is left to absorb the Lotus fragrance for 36 hours the process is repeated until it has been blended seven times. In total it can take 1000 – 1200 individual lotus flowers to make each kilogram of Lotus Tea.
For our own Lotus Tea we source wild grown mountain green tea (although we now also have black and oolong lotus teas) and ship this to Hanoi for the blending to be carried out during the lotus season which extends from June to September.
This year as something of a novelty we also had some lotus flowers packed with tea produced which were then wrapped in a leaf and vacuum packed. The practice of putting tea inside the flower reflects the origin of lotus tea preparation in Vietnam. Old texts speak of servants placing tea into flowers at night as they grew in the lotus ponds and then removing the tea the following morning.
For our experiment we used flowers that had already been picked and inserted 15 grams of wild Fin Ho green tea into the flower before they were wrapped and sealed. We ended up with 50 blooms which were then sent to our shop in Ho Chi Minh City where they were all sold immediately – with the exception of a few that we kept for personal use.
Unwrapping the flower from the leaf and removing the tea there is the familiar scent of lotus but unlike the more usual process it is noticeable that the tea leaves are quite damp. It is probable that if left too long then mould be start to grow on the tea. I have heard that people sometimes freeze the blooms to prevent mould growth but not sure if that would impact the eventual taste.
The drink that is made with the tea is very pleasant; a bright clear liquor that is fragrant and quite sweet. Although it is not as strongly scented as the tea that the usual process produces after the long blending process. The tea is good for 3 steepings but after that there is little flavour left. With the usual tea we would expect the fragrance to still come through strong after 7 (and maybe more) steepings.
This was a very interesting experiment. Making the tea from the flower makes for a very attractive ceremony but does not deliver the full beautiful intensity of lotus flavour.
Our usual Lotus Tea is available online or in our shop.