They may seem a little gimmicky, but flowering teas are more than just a pretty face in your cup.
Caressed by the warmth of the water, these teas slowly spin and unfurl, revealing the anemonelike arms of individual tea leaves that gently embrace a flower tied in the middle. It's like getting to watch spring's week-long progression of a firm, pale-green bud burgeon into a vibrant spring blossom in the space of a few minutes.
And you have a cup of tea to drink after the show.
Plus, flowering teas were verboten during the Cultural Revolution in China due to their frivolity, furthering my theory that anything banned by the Chinese government is something I will find thoroughly enjoyable (e.g., Internet porn and human rights).
The one I had this morning, the delicate Flower Jewel from Numi, consists of Silver Needle white tea encasing a brilliant pink amaranth blossom. With their subtly sweet flavor and fragrance, white teas are an ideal host to flowers- roses, lotus, chrysanthemum and gardenia are some of the most often used- but green and black teas can be just as marvelous with the right floral match.
Like other loose-leaf teas, flowering teas can be brewed a few times; in fact, they tend to open up more in subsequent cups.
Of course, the taste of flowering teas is only as good as the tea enclosing the bloom. But maybe it's the potential that makes them so appealing; these teas come in such tight, closed little balls that you'd never guess how lushly they will blossom.