Drinking chrysanthemum tea has been a part of my life since young, especially whenever we are ill or eating at dim sum restaurants in Singapore. Drinking chrysanthemum tea in the UK is not common practice at all and not even in Chinatown Chinese restaurants. It is one of my favourite teas that I missed when I moved to the UK.
As a side note, when I first came to the UK, I was shocked that supermarkets sold chrysanthemum flowers as a common flower for anyone to receive. In Chinese practice (in Singapore), we only buy chrysanthemum flowers for funerals and so it is considered bad luck to give any to your family or friends!
Anyway, I have been coughing since the New Year and my mum suggested I boil the tea to ‘cool’ my body. It is a tradition that’s been passed down and something her mum’s mum did whenever someone was having a cough. Of course, chrysanthemum tea is not just good for ‘cooling’ your body. It also has lot of benefits like treating respiratory problems, high blood pressure, and hyperthyroidism. It can reduce inflammation and calm your nerves. Chrysanthemum tea has been used in Chinese medicine for ages and my dad used to say it is good for your body to clear off the oily food we had consumed. It was one of those things parents say to get you to drink up!
You might wonder what chrysanthemum tea is? It is a flower-based infusion beverage made from chrysanthemum flowers of the species chrysanthemum morifolium or chrysanthemum indicum. You can buy it from most Asian supermarkets ready-made as a drink or as dried flowers/tea, usually from China. Mr C likens it to something like a chamomile tea.
For the dried tea that you brew yourself, once brewed, you can either drink it as it is or flavour it with rock sugar/black sugar. I always boil it in bulk rather than making just a single cup. So for the measurement, I use a bowl of tea to 10 bowls of boiling water.
First, wash your chrysanthemum under a tap using a sieve. This is to get rid of any impurities on the chrysanthemum and soak it slightly for the chrysanthemum to open up. Boil the water in the big pot until it bubbles. Turn off your cooker and place the chrysanthemum into the big pot. I like to add goji berries and rock sugar at this point, but this step is optional. Do not turn on your cooker to boil as it will destroy your chrysanthemum. Leave it to cool to drink.
I usually use rock sugar for my chrysanthemum tea as opposed to any other type of sweetener as there’s a hint of honey. However, I just happened to run out of rock sugar but had a bag of black sugar at home. So my mum suggested me to use this instead. According to her, black sugar is great for detox and much better! The resulting tea is very dark compared to the unsweetened tea. It is a nice alternative but personally I would still prefer to have it with rock sugar which can be bought from Asian supermarket. I would avoid using white granulated sugar as it just doesn’t taste the same.
As mentioned earlier, chrysanthemum tea also comes in a ready-made drink but I try to avoid these as they tend to be just sweet drink with a hint of chrysanthemum so negligible health benefits. I would not recommended them unless you have a sweet tooth! Have you tried chrysanthemum tea before?