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Tea flower or flowering tea - the whole blossom kind

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Nothing like a beautiful cup of flower tea at home. A bit of theatrics with a "dragon ball" - when the water is poured, the little mushroom-like orb magically, colorfully, blossoms in your cup or glass teapot.

Which stores have them? Any reasonably priced good brands? Are they single blossoms or "woven" to look like large flowers? Is it worth it to mail-order a special kind?

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  1. NUMI tea in Oakland. numitea.com
    Lunardi's and Andronico's in the east bay. Woven. Yes.

    1. Teance in Berkely. And a tea shop off of Clement on 6th. I think they are whole blossom. Never considered that before. What would a woven one look like?

      5 Replies
      1. re: rworange

        They are called "performance teas" and considered little more than a gimmick. It's the kind of thing you find in the gift shops in the departure area of major international airports in China at inflated prices. They are not whole flowers; they are bound at the stems.

        1. re: Gary Soup

          But isn't this a whole red clover?
          http://store.teance.com/hatijatea.html

          1. re: rworange

            Well, yes, a whole red clover "emerges" from the construction, like the girl popping out of the cake.

          2. re: Gary Soup

            Gary, I had no idea that this was such a gimmick - I'm embarrased now as I unknowingly gave some to a Chinese friend a couple of years ago as a Chinese New Year "host" gift... Now I know better.

            1. re: RWCFoodie

              I wouldn't be too embarrassed. Flambée is a gimmick. So is sizzling rice soup or Moroccan tea poured from a height.

              As long as the tea was reasonable quality, I'm sure it was appreciated. There's pleasure to be taken in more than just the taste or scent of tea.

        2. the Coffee Market on hopkins street in Berkeley, just about a block from Monterey Market has a whole selection of teas including whole flower teas that they import. They also have an awesome array of tea pots, cups, and other chinese-style dishes at very reasonable prices! (the cheese looks perpetually tired, but the coffee is good, too)

          1. I know that Paxton Gate carries the blossoming tea. Paxton Gate is in the Mission at 824 Valencia between 19th and 20th Streets.

            You might also want to try Red Blossom Tea Company in Chinatown. Red Blossom Tea has a beautiful boutique at 831 Grant Avenue near Clay Street. Their store has an great collection of teapots and cups. Their shelves are filled with varieties of tea. http://www.redblossomtea.com.

            5 Replies
            1. re: shnigglebob

              I doubt you'll find Red Blossom selling something so gimmicky. After escaping the vendors of the same at Shanghai's Pudong Airport, I half-jokingly suggested to Alice at RB that the store could make a bundle by displaying performance teas in the window and selling them to tourists. She just wrinkled her nose at the thought.

              1. re: Gary Soup

                I also doubt that Red Blossum would have any performance teas, but I'd like to point out that Red Blossum and Imperial Tea Court are the two of the very best tea sellers in Chinatown with excellent selection quality and expertise.

                1. re: Paul H

                  i was just at red blossom several days ago and i could swear they had the flowerball teas. a bunch of them on the middle shelves toward the back. and tourists wanting them.

                  i don't see what's so bad about them. they are kind of cool to look at. yes not as tasty as carefully chosen loose leaves, but that's not their main purpose.

                  1. re: choctastic

                    Red Blossom definitely has at least one of the "flowering" teas. I used them as favors for my wedding. :-)

                  2. re: Paul H

                    I don't think that the blossoming tea is a gimmick. Also, Red Blossom does sell them and even has pictures on their website. I've found the blossoming tea to be of good quality.

              2. Peet's has started offering some flowering teas although I have yet to try them. I've seen them at all SF locations I frequent. The Imperial Tea Court at the Ferry plaza is lovely and has an impressive selection of flowering teas. Somewhat pricey:

                http://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.c...

                1. I saw some in the gift section of Out the Door in the basement of the Westfield Center a couple of weeks ago.

                  1. Samovar also often has a red or jade peony.

                    The tea shop on 8th near Clement is Aroma.

                    Best if you have a glass teapot to show them off in.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Windy

                      Where to shop for pretty glass teapots? The one I have is cute, only cost around $20 at a Chinese store on Broadway and...? near the tunnel, but I need a bigger one and would appreciate a little more selection.

                      1. re: grocerytrekker

                        Peet's usually has the Bodium ones. Just make sure the immersion part where the tea goes reaches all the way down into the water.

                        Personally I prefer small ceramic teapots, which I buy at Japantown, over cast iron or glass, which both lose their heat quickly.

                        Samovar, Teance, and Imperial Tea all have beautiful selections of teapots. Sounds like fun shopping.

                        1. re: grocerytrekker

                          Do some searching on-line for Jenaer and Bodum, they make most of the good-looking glass teapots. Here's an example of a 42 oz. pot from Jenaer:

                          http://www.adagio.com/teaware/glass_t...

                          Red Blossom Tea has some glass pots, and (of all places) SF MOMA.

                          1. re: Gary Soup

                            Funny, that Jenaer pot looks like the one I have, except that it's probably much bigger, the position of the teapot handle is different, and the infuser chamber seems to sit lower. Thanks for the reminder to check SF MOMA. That's a great idea.

                            And Windy, thanks for your suggestions. Oh, I like my Japanese ceramic teapots, too. A joy to use now and then.

                            1. re: grocerytrekker

                              Teavana
                              teavana.com
                              Polk & Vallejo [2164 Polk St], San Francicso, CA 94109
                              415-931-9301
                              I use the Miko Teapot which comes with its own tea warmer

                            2. re: Gary Soup

                              Thanks for the link to Adagio. I went ahead and bought one of their starter kits, which comes bundled with an ingenuiTEA (excellent single cup brewer) and 4 samples for $19. They're doing upgrades to 2-day shipping too.

                              The pot above looks like it would drip if you filled it because the spout is poorly designed.

                        2. I bought some at Peet's in December. Flavor was so-so but in a glass teapot it was visually impressive!

                          1. I've a friend who takes these to conventions and has one in the bottom of her iced tea glass. Eyecatching and a good conversation starter.

                            1. Elephant Pharmacy in Berkeley carries them.

                              1. I have the green tea leaves silk-tied to unfold like a Sea anemone in a drinking glass of hot water. Good for 4-5 infusions. Every waiter in the place would come to look at it and want to know what it was. They of course thought it was something from the ocean. I tried another, that was shaped like a plum with a few leaves on it.
                                They do start a conversation!

                                1. Aroma on 6th at Clement carries them, as does Rainbow Grocery.

                                  1. Imperial tea court in Berkeley Epicurious and at the Ferry Building carry them.

                                    I actually got a lovely one that was very fragrant and tasty at the Berkeley tea house. It was only 2 dollars, so i didn't see the harm and was actually quite impressed with the all day long tea pot we ended up enjoying.

                                    The flowers at Aroma are 3.50 per and up. (i was just there yesterday and noticed them)

                                    1. They are beautiful to see and taste and smell wonderful. Since you can get several infusions from them so they are worth it, plus you don't get tea leaves stuck in your teeth. When I was in Chongqing, China last year, they did sell them at the airport, but I don't care. They are very nice. I gave some as gifts this holiday. They are available at wholefoods, Numi brand. Also Ten-Ren tea on 3rd ave. San Mateo has the pretty glass tea pots and the flowering tea as well.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: peppatty

                                        Yeah, I like them too for beauty, aroma & taste. They also sell green, black and white tea at the airport ... so maybe that doesn't mean alot.

                                        1. re: rworange

                                          Yes, they sell regular tea at the Airports in China but they focus on pretty packaging and other "giftable" qualities. You'll find them next to the Panda memorabilia.

                                          Try and find a store clerk at an airport shop that can tell you varietals, origins, and harvest date of green teas, for instance. All you will get is an effusive "This is green tea."

                                          1. re: Gary Soup

                                            Well, that's kind of what I meant. Just because it is in an airport souvenir shop doesn't make the category bad.

                                            1. re: Gary Soup

                                              I didn't do that much better at real tea shops when I didn't have a Chinese speaker with me. I was trying to buy Yunnan black tea and pu erhh and kept being steered to local green teas and flavored tea in a pretty box.

                                              Most store clerks don't know much about tea, nor did the Chinese friends I was traveling with.

                                        2. Vital Tea Leaf in SF Chinatown, across from Golden Gate Bakery (have the custard tart there, then walk over for some tea). They have free tastings and the owner and staff speak fluent English and Chinese. They spend the time explaining a lot of the tea and I know they have it. They keep one in a wine glass on the counter at all times.

                                          Vital Tea Leaf
                                          1044 Grant Avenue, San Francisco, 94133 (Directions)
                                          415-981-2388

                                          1. Imperial Tea Court in the city and Berkeley has a couple under Green Teas (maybe more elsewhere?), "Dancing Blossoms", "Flower of Prosperity", and "Lychee Blossoms". The links on this site have descriptions of the flowers and leaves they string together plus photos:

                                            http://www.imperialtea.com/AB1002000S...

                                            I got the lychee one once and it was very pleasant.

                                            I have also bought them at Lovejoy's Tea Room (at their store across from the restaurant).

                                            I had seen some special ones in the shape of hearts or some crazy thing like that, too!