In addition to our single origin tea range we also offer blended and naturally flavoured teas. Here we are for a spring weekend in Hanoi to lend a hand in the making of Pomelo Flower green tea. As with our other flower scented tea the blending is performed by a family living close to the West Lake (or Ho Tay) area of the capital who have been bledning teas for many years. It is from here that the lotus, jasmine, tiny daisy and pomelo flower teas are crafted.
Our approach to flower scented teas is to select what we believe to be an ideal tea and deliver this to Hanoi ready for blending. The base tea is always one of the high grown wild teas because we can be confident of their purity and also because experience has shown that they are more effective in absorbing fragrance from the flowers. The tea must be high quality but it should not have too distinctive or strong flavour of its own – or else it could overpower the flower fragrance.
Tea and flowers are the only ingredients apart from care and attention. No extra flavourings are added either natural or otherwise. The process of blending tea with flowers is essentially the same for all types except that the ratios used and the number of times that the process is repeated will vary.
The pomelo (or citrus maxima) is the largest of the four original citrus species and is native to South and Southeast Asia. It is widespread in Vietnam and grows naturally in gardens in and around West Lake in Hanoi. Pomelo trees can be 5 to 15 metres (15 to 50 feet) tall with a crooked trunk and low irregular branches. Although primarily grown for its large pale green to yellow fruit the flowers have long been gathered in northern Vietnam for making perfume – and for scenting tea.
Pomelo flowers blossom for a short period during March and April each year which means that the opportunity to make the tea is quite limited. Harvesting of the flowers usually takes place in the early morning in order to pick the flowers just as they open.
Baskets of flowers are taken back to the family home where they are separated; just the fragrant petals are selected and set aside for blending with the tea. Petals and tea are mixed at a rate of 300 grams of flower for each kilogram of tea. For this particular blend we are using a wild green mountain tea from Fin Ho in Ha Giang province.
Once the tea has been thoroughly mixed it is placed into a large kraft paper sack which is then wrapped and tied around a hollow metal container. A blanket is wrapped around the outside of the container to provide further insulation before hot water is poured into the container to dry the tea. It is left undisturbed for 24 hours as the tea absorbs the scent from the pomelo flowers.
The following day tea and petals are separted and the process is repeated one more time with a fresh batch of flowers. The tea is then carefully packed and ready for use.
Pomelo Flower tea is quite unique and not widely available. The tea has quite a strong citrus aroma commonly associated with the skin of the fruit. To drink, however, it is much more subtle and sweet than you might expect even though the citrus notes are still very apparent. This is a delightfully rare tea to enjoy on a lazy spring or summer afternoon.