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Sakura, Sakura: Pickled Cherry Blossom Tea

February 14, 2011

Today’s Tea: Sakura Tea by Obubu Tea

Ceremoniously served by: caclob and goodtea

Sakura, or cherry blossoms, are a well-known symbol of Japanese culture. They can also be found in many foods and dishes, from sakura-flavored KitKats to sweet rice desserts to tea!  Obubu Tea, which sells high quality Japanese teas, offers a special type of sakura tea.  The whole blossom is salt-pickled in plum vinegar–but don’t let this unusual tea scare you away!

The procedure for pickled sakura tea is a bit different than normal teas, so I’m going to include the instructions shown on the Obubu site here:

  1. Take one sakura blossom and soak it in warm water for about 5 minutes to remove the salt.
  2. After you have removed the salt, place the petal in your tea cup.
  3. Pour hot water into the tea cup with the blossom inside, then use a spoon to add the salted water to according to taste.

The resulting tea is a fragrant, but not too flowery, lightly salty tisane.  This may sound very bizarre to many Western tea drinkers, but the salt turns what might be an extremely floral tea into a more subtle, mature drink.  If you have trouble stomaching the idea of a salty tea, think of it as a broth or soup–suddenly, it’ll be delicious! A benefit of removing the salt in a separate cup in Step 2 is that you can then season your main drinking cup to taste. And consider pairing this tea with something sweet–the contrast might delight you.

Beneath the saltiness, you’ll find the unique taste of sakura blossoms–a sort of light, airy, but fragrant sweetness. If you’ve ever had sakuramochi or even sakura-flavored KitKat bars, you’ll recognize it right away.  As the Obubu website says, this flavor “is quite different from the cherry fruit flavor so common in Western sweets (as well as many ‘Japanese cherry green teas’ where the ‘cherry’ is actually cherry fruit flavoring)” and not the delicate cherry blossom!

The cherry blossom floating in your cup also makes for a striking image. We wish we had glass tea cups on hand to better enjoy the view! It’s a bit early for hanami, the traditional springtime cherry blossom viewing, so we’ll settle for gazing at the pale-pink flowers in our tea cups instead.

Conclusion: This sakura tea offers an authentic taste of Japan. It’s a unique tea that holds its own in terms of flavor.  At $7.99 for shipping for the equivalent of 15-20 cups of tea, this tea may become a welcome diversion from all those green and black teas that you have in your cupboard. (Obubu’s Sampler Pack also includes a small pack of cherry blossoms.)

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