Tea Bombs have many different names, from the traditional gong yi hua cha that literally translates to “art flower tea” to many different English variations such as: Blooming tea, Flowering tea, Blossoming tea and what we call them at Tundra Transfer: Blooming Tea Bombs.
Finding history on blooming tea has been more of a challenge than I expect- considering how in our modern day and age it is usually relatively easy to find information. One thing seems to agreed on though, that they originated in China in the Yunnan province.
There is controversy on when exactly this beautiful tea product came into being, some resources state that there are drawing of them in dating back hundreds of years, others claim that they are a relatively new product. After reading several different articles, it seems most likely that they were first created hundreds of years ago, but originally were just a decoration made of low quality tea and set in glass jars as a display center piece. Watching them bloom is a tranquil relaxing experience so it makes sense for that to have been an entertainment in China way back when.
One of the pages I found in my research that claims blooming tea is a modern invention had a couple interesting stories about their origin:
“There are two people who are well-known tea masters and played major roles in blooming tea invention. The first person is from An Hui. He grew up in a tea farm and both his father and grandfather were advanced tea farmers. When he was young, he saw his mom making sun dried vegetables. In Chinese tradition, moms use a special local leaf to buddle the sun-dried vegetables together then store it for winter. Inspired by what his mom did, he applied the same techniques in dried tea leaves-buddle tea leaves together to create a artful shape. That's the original Green Peony (or Lu Mu Dan, 绿牡丹 in Chinese)!! After years of testing and research, he finally created a special tea category-blooming tea, a tea that is purely hand crafted, leaf by leaf, from plucking to final sewing, and unfolds in hot water, even though there's no flower attached. He immediately shared the techniques with all local tea farmers. That was in mid 80s.
There's another family who planted and sold tea for decades in Southern China, but their business was dying. In 90s, the most popular teas in China were green teas, but they were specialized in white and Oolong teas. The family barely made living for years. Until one day, the brother who was a sales rep for the father, came back with a question-he noticed the issues at tea house-In Chinese tradition, men always drink loose leaf teas only (because they believe they are strong), while women love flowers, such as rose buds, Jasmine. When few friends, male and female, go to a tea house, they have to order two separate pots of tea-whole leaf tea for men and herbal tea for women. The solution was to combine the two together-true Blooming tea was born!! The sister started working on the idea. She was inspired by the the natural flower blossoming and eventually created a truly beautiful blooming tea, with real flowers in the center of tea leaves!!!”
I take these stories with a grain of salt since I believe that blooming tea dates back further than the 1980’s, but I found the theories interesting to read and ponder all the same, who knows perhaps that is how they were rediscovered!
These days blooming tea is a delight for more than just the visual sense, they are also designed to smell and taste lovely as well, and since high quality teas are now used they also have all the medicinal benefits of the teas they are made of.
The most common teas used are green, white and Oolong. Often flowers are also tied in most commonly chrysanthemum, lily, carnation, hibiscus, marigold, rose, globe amaranth and jasmine.
Tea bombs are all 100% hand made, which is why they are not the cheapest form of tea to buy. Teas are gathered and tied in the morning while they are fresh and wet so that the artisan designer can arrange the way that they will bloom, then tied with cotton thread and either steamed or dried in the sun.
Personally, my favorite way to enjoy them is with my large glass teapot on a weekend morning before I start doing some crafting. I play some music and watch my tea bomb bloom while I think about my project and work on designs, then I have a nice big pot of delicious green tea to drink while I craft.
That’s all for today, look for next weeks article that will feature Red Rooibos Tea.
My name is Lily, I am the store supervisor at Tundra Transfer Ltd. I love my job because it gives me a great excuse to learn more about a topic I have a lot of personal interest in - tea. I have always enjoyed tea, growing up green tea was the only caffeinated beverage I was ever allowed to drink and from that start my interest has grown. Since my employment at Tundra Transfer I have made it part of my job to be a knowledgeable source of information on teas and started a line of Wellness teas- A fantastic line of natural herbal remedies for all kinds of ailments. A big function of this blog will be featuring different types of teas and the medicinal benefits you can get from them.
Like our tea pictures? Check out our Instagram! @TundraCoffeeCo