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Jan 7, 2007 08:43 PM

Tea flower or flowering tea - the whole blossom kind

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.
    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: 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.

        1. 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.

            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: