There are those that believe that these beautiful works of art came from an ancient Chinese tradition; however it is widely considered to be developed in the 1990s in China and made its way to the west in the early 2000s.
It is popular to brew this type of tea in a clear pot or cup in order to watch the leaves unfurl as it steeps. This tea is usually good for multiple brews so it’s better to brew in a pot. The most common flowers used in flowering teas are chrysanthemums, jasmines, lilies, osmanthus and hibiscus.
They are created when artisans bunch the leaves into a ball and having them dry in that form, allowing the leaves to retain the ball structure. When packaged, they are wrapped individually so as they are not jostled during transport. There are some that say that there are artisans that can create little scenes with their teas (some say like a sailing ship, though I have never seen it for myself). I will admit, half the fun is seeing what will unfurl from that tight little ball.
If you are finishing your tea and are finding it heartbreaking to lose the work of art…never fear! By using two spoons, you can transfer your tea from your teapot of hot water to another filled with cold water. Some say that this can be maintained for weeks!
While digging up research, I also found that there are those out there that make their own tea balls. In fact, I found instructions on how to do it myself! Here’s the link for those willing to take on the challenge:
Cool, no? I managed to find a video on YouTube that allows you to watch this tea unfurl: