In The Know
Every year between the months of March and May, Japan’s hillsides and streets are veiled with an ethereal fantasy of "pink snow." This remarkable vision is produced by the falling flowers of the cherry blossom tree, known in Japan as Sakura. The flower is a cultural icon and is celebrated each year in the ancient custom called Hanami, a ceremonial tradition in Japan. Hanami can be translated as flower viewing. During this fleeting season, the flower blooms only briefly, and is considered a metaphor for the transient aspect of human existence. Additionally, springtime represents a time of renewal. The Cherry Blossom Festival unites people in a celebration of nature’s beauty and life, shared by rejoicing in food and drink, all inspired by the beloved Cherry Blossom Tree. During the festival, there are many food and drinks created with the Sakura flower.
Developing Our Blend
The petal is naturally mild in taste, but when soaked and salted the flower becomes concentrated and is then ready to be used in food and drinks. Desserts made from dried petals soaked in salt solution are mixed with red bean paste, which forms the basis of many traditional desserts, including Sakura Mochi, the one we wanted to extract the essence of to duplicate for our Japanese Cherry Blossom Tea.
The task at hand was not easy, due to the fact that the Sakura leaf, when soaked in a salt solution, has a salty, as opposed to sweet base. This is where we tested our creativity, by seeking to develop balanced ingredients that would produce complimenting flavors. Our blender eventually succeeded in developing a process that worked.
We select petals from a specific region of Japan, which consistently results in the most enticing floral aroma. Finding the perfect tea to compliment the delicate blossoms took a while, but in the end we settled on incorporating a black tea that was light enough to avoid overpowering the blossoms, but strong enough to provide the perfect amount of oomph.