Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What's in a Name?

Lotus tea is one of my favorite teas. I like it so much that my nom de plume, cha sen , is derived from it. Cha, being the cognate of the word tea in many languages; sen, the term for lotus in Vietnamese, befitting since lotus tea originates in the central highlands of Vietnam (by serendipity, chasen, is also the Japanese term designating the bamboo whisk used to stir matcha in the Japanese tea ceremony).
The method of creating lotus tea is completely charming: at night, a fine green tea is placed into the opened lotus flower buds. The buds are then gently closed overnight for the lotus essence to permeate the tea.
When I drank my cup of lotus tea, I often think of the delicate process that it goes through before it becomes this wonderful amber liquid in my teapot. Its flavor is very strong after the first infusion so that 2 minutes are plenty for steeping. The tea, like other green teas, should be brewed in cooler water; I usually wait for the boiling water to cool down between 3-4 minutes before steeping the tea.
A snack that goes wonderfully well with this tea are peas laced with wasabi; the saltiness and sinus-clearing nature of the wasabi pair well with the slightly astringent taste of the tea. I am able to find the peas sold at Japanese specialty stores and have trouble not eating all of the contents of the bag before I pulled out my prized canister of lotus tea!
On the other hand, it is more difficult to find good lotus teas even in Vietnamese stores. I will let you know when I find a dependable purveyor of lotus tea.
After this tea-pairing, my mind ( and nasal passages) clears and I go back to my journal reading.

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