Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Flowering Teas

Beaut-Tea, originally uploaded by TangoPango.

Beaut-Tea, originally uploaded by TangoPango.

Although the term most often refers to hand-tied teas (see picture above), I would like to talk about notes that smell like infusion of dry flowers. Most of you are probably familiar with chamomile tea, with its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. And there is also chrysanthemum tea, which I was only introduced to recently by my dear friend Tina. The latter has an earthy, herbaceous and both medicinal and floral note to it. It’s full bodied like a tea leaf, and a very interesting tea. And of course one can also infuse dried rose petals, lavender, etc.

Below is a short list of notes that remind me of these qualities of flowering teas (chamomile and chrysanthemum in particular).

Helicrysum Oil
The essential oil of immortelle is rarely used in perfumery because of its extremely high cost. It is more valued in aromatherapy for its healing properties, in treating rheumatic and muscular pain as well as various skin conditions. The scent itself is honeyed, herbaceous, sweet and floral – similar to marigold – and just a little earthy.

Manuka Oil
Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) is a flowering shrub native to New Zealand and Australia. The essential oil from the leaves and flowering tops has tremendous anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties (you can use it neat on the skin to treat fungal infections). But it also smells fantastic, the closest thing to chrysanthemum tea, herbaceous, earthy, fruity and peculiar.

Roman Chamomile
Roman chamomile has an intensely sweet, fruity and apple-like scent, and at the same time it is also slightly herbaceous. My friend Andrea is a sucker for chamomile tea; personally I find it too medicinal – I have too many association of bathing in it as a child (it is an anti-inflammatory so it helps soothe the skin). But it does make a beautiful, smooth infusion and it’s really nice with a little honey. The essential oil is rarely used in perfumes, perhaps more popular in flavouring. But it can be used creatively with other florals and herbs to create a very rich, honeyed, tea-like fruity floral.

Marigold (Tagetes)
This intensely fruity note is reminiscent of honey, berries and a brings to mind summer garden (it is a natural insect repellent and helps keep bugs away from tomato plants). It is steam distilled from these golden, brown and bright orange flowers and creates special effects in perfumery and flavouring – imitating berries.

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