CAPSULE REPORT: This exciting tea punch recipe combines popular spirits (tequila and vodka) with blooming tea (flower tea), fruit juices and strawberries. We couldn’t stop drinking it! If you can’t get ahold of blooming tea in time for your event, you can brew six cups of jasmine or other green or white tea (brew to maximum strength).
Blooming teas (also called flowering tea or presentation tea) are hand-sewn balls of tea leaves and flower petals, cleverly stitched together with thread by Chinese artisans in the Yunnan province. When the ball of tea is dropped into water, it unfurls in a magical way, like a fast-forward video of a blooming flower. Flowering teas are fragrant, aromatic teas that do not tend to get bitter with extended steeping.
There are numerous different “flower” designs and flavors. The teas tend to be mild green and have white “leaves” so the flower can be infused numerous times without producing bitter flavors. The flowers used are globe amaranth, chrysanthemum, hibiscus, jasmine, lily and osmanthus. They add flavor and aroma as well as beauty.
To enjoy the beauty of flowering teas, prepare them in a glass vessel—a cup, punch bowl or a teapot like the one in the photo.
The tea flower can be infused several times with more hot water. The number of times depends on the particular tea: Keep trying until there’s no more flavor. Even then, people keep the blossom in a glass pot as a floral accent. The blooms will keep for a couple of weeks.
The tiny tea balls at left open up into impressive blossoms. Photo courtesy TeaBeyond.com.
Tea Punch Recipe
The recipe is courtesy of TeaBeyond.com, an artisan tea purveyor that sells blooming tea and loose leaf teas.
1 cup sugar
2.5 cups of apple juice (unsweetened, from concentrate)
1-2 large (64-ounce) bottles ginger ale for strawberry ice cubes
Make ice cubes a day in advance. Fill 4 ice cube trays with ginger ale (you can save calories with no-cal ginger ale) and a fresh strawberry into each compartment. (Look for smaller strawberries that will fit. If you can only find jumbo strawberries, you can cut them into pieces). Wash the strawberries but leave the green leaves on.
Brew tea: Boil 6 cups of spring water. Drop in 4 pieces of blooming tea and brew 15 minutes. Then remove blooms and reserve for later.
Add 1 cup of sugar (or equivalent amount of other sweetener) to the tea. Stir gently until the sugar is fully dissolved.
Mix apple, lemon and grapefruit juices, plus tequila and vodka, in a punch bowl; then add tea. Stir gently to combine (you can use a large whisk).
Add the four blooming teas to the mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and put the punch in the refrigerator to chill for 3 hours or longer. (The recipe can be made in advance as well). If the punch bowl won’t fit in the fridge, pour the punch into pitchers until ready to serve.
To serve, add the ice cubes to the punch bowl or to individual glasses, as you prefer.
Prep Time: 20 minutes, plus 2-3 hours to chill; ice cubes made in advance
Yields: 20-24 servings (approximately 96 ounces)
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