Sunday, September 8, 2013
Handmade Lotus Leaf Tea • 수제 연잎 차
Lotus leaf tea (연잎차, yeon ip cha) has been popular tradition in Korea for a long time. There are several different mixtures of the different parts of the lotus plant. The most common is just lotus leaf, then there's a slightly more expensive lotus leaf and flower mixture, a very expensive lotus flower tea (연꽃차, yeon kkoht cha), a newer lotus root tea (연근차, yeon geun cha) and and a lotus tea combining all three. All of these teas are usually very expensive, even as much per gram as the best Korean green teas.
During our year and a half of living in the Korean countryside, there was a lotus pond near our house, and I cut a couple of lotus leaves at the end of the summer. They made for perfect umbrellas when walking home a sudden but quick summer downpour passed over. In the house, I hung them from the ceiling for three days until they were completely dried. Commercial lotus leaf tea appears to be machine shredded but I cut them with kitchen shears into small strips, then bit by bit into smaller fragments.
I was excited to brew my first pot and see how it turned out. The smell was much greener than other lotus teas I've had, as was the bright colour of the infusion. It had the expected grassy but very sweat taste balanced by a deep, murky undertone. Lotuses are famous for emerging unsullied from the mud, but their humble, muddy origin is betrayed in the finishing taste. The more leaves used, the stronger the murkiness but but a good scoopful made a deliciously fresh brew.
Lotus tea is cleansing, and is known in Korea for its ability to flush alcohol and nicotine from your blood, which certainly explains its popularity! Aside from being a tonic, it has also gained much popularity as a slimming tea for its alleged fat burning ability. In other circles, it's also appreciated for its ability to calm mind and body, making it a great meditation tea.
(I know it looks bad, but I was pushing the stroller! (◕‿-) Just ran ahead a bit to take this shot!)