What is better than to celebrate Spring with a cup of Cherry Blossom Tea. When you brew the tea, the cherry blossoms bloom in the water. They are really pretty and make them the perfect drink for the occasion.
Last autumn when I was in Japan, I encountered these small containers of salt pickled cherry blossoms calling me. I do not remember the name of the store, but the exact street location is right in front of Kiyomizudera Temple, Kyoto. Since I missed the perfect season for seeing cherry blossoms, I thought the salt pickled cherry blossom was the perfect souvenir to go home.
Brewing tea is the easiest way to enjoy the salted cherry blossoms. I really find the experience of waiting for the preserved cherry blossoms to open up their petals and bloom when covered with hot water is very fascinating. The water will turn a little bit pinkish in color when it is ready. It has a subtle floral fragrance and a touch of saltiness, unlike any other tea I have ever tasted.
About Cherry Blossom
Cherry blossom or sakura is a special flower in Japan. In fact, the most favorite travel season in Japan is during early spring when the cherry blossoms are blooming. Why all this excitement over cherry blossoms? Well, the pink and white petal clusters are an absolutely beautiful sight to behold. But also there is more to their splendor than meets the eye.
The tree holds a very prominent position in Japanese position, making the country’s national flower a cultural icon revered around the world not just for its overwhelming beauty, but for its enduring expression of life, death, and renewal. The reason is that cherry blossoms stay in bloom for barely two weeks or sometimes less. Therefore, people only have a brief time to enjoy the trees in full bloom. Every place gets crowded with people doing Hanami or cherry blossom viewing during the season, which involves enjoying a picnic under the trees with snacks and drinks. Interesting right?
About Salt Pickled Cherry Blossoms
Japanese people love cherry blossoms so much. Not only they eagerly look forward to the short flowering season each spring, but they also pickle them in salt and vinegar to preserve them longer. The tradition has gone on since centuries ago. Since then, the pickled cherry blossoms are usually used for occasions outside the season. They are originally used to make tea, which is used on special occasions such as weddings, to celebrate new beginnings and beauty.
To make salt pickled cherry blossoms, tender young buds are soaked in ume plum vinegar for several days before being dried completely. Then, they are packed in jars or packages with salt. I have a close-up picture of some cherry blossoms. As you can see, they are fully covered in salt granules.
If you want to have Cherry Blossom Tea, I guess you should start looking at the salt pickled cherry blossoms. It is best to start searching for the product at pickle-specialized stores in Japan. For those living outside of Japan, I do not think your local Japanese grocery store might have them. So, I suggest getting them online on the link I have provided.
How to Use Salt Pickled Cherry Blossoms
For most uses, you need to rinse them in hot water to remove a little bit of saltiness. Meanwhile, for Cherry Blossom Tea, you just need to wipe off some salt and it is ready to brew. The petals are very delicate, so you need to remove the salt gently.
Other than sakura tea, I also got two more ways to use these preserved flowers as per the instruction paper I got in the packaging. You can make cherry blossom rice and pound cake with salt pickled cherry blossoms. I also made the Cherry Blossom Rice Balls with these salted cherry blossoms. Don’t forget to check it out!
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