PHYLLIS ODESSEY

Head in the Clouds: Cloudy TEA

It was my day off.  I was up at 7 AM.  My usual rising time for work is 5 AM.  I was in pj’s, cup of “joe” in hand, checking my emails. Emergency email from Eunyoung.  “It’s 80 degrees outside.  The cherry blossoms are going to open wide.  Must make tea today.”  It was my first  cherry blossom alert.

We do strange and wonderful things on Randall’s Island.  It’s part of the charm of my job.  On April 20th, we are holding our first Cherry Blossom Festival at  Randall’s Island Urban Farm.  Shino Tanaka, will demonstrate how to make cherry blossom salt and tea.  Cherry Blossom Tea is a fermentation process.  The cherry blossoms are mixed with salt and plum vinegar and over the course of a week, ferment and become drinkable as a tea or decoration.

Using green tea,  float one cherry blossom in your cup.  The flower opens.  Inpatient, I tried it right away.  I did not taste anything, except the flavor of tea.  5 minutes later another sip.  Salty, very salty.  5 minutes later, the taste of the cherry blossom.  
evening temple bell
stopped in the sky
by the cherry blossom
Chiyo-nii

CHERRY BLOSSOM
SALT RECIPE

Ingredients:
Double Cherry Blossoms (Kwanzan Cherry Blossoms), coarse salt and plum or white wine vinegar.

Directions:
1. Gather cherry blossoms when the flowers are 70-80% open.

2.  Rinse blossoms with water very lightly and drain blossoms in a flat basket.
3.  Drain the excess water from the blossoms and mix until the salt has been evenly distributed.
4.  Transfer the blossoms to a bowl.
5. Sprinkle coarse salt over the blossoms and mix until the salt has been evenly distributed.
6.  Take a clean plastic container, line the container with plastic wrap.
7.  Transfer the salted blossoms to the container.
8.  Seal the container tightly with an air-tight lid.
9.  Place a heavy object on the top of the lid.  This will help with the fermentation process.
10.  Leave the blossoms with the weight in the container for 24 hours.
11.  The following day, remove the blossoms from the container.
12.  Put the blossoms on paper towel and gently tap the excess water from the blossoms.
13.  After removing the excess water, place the blossoms back in the same container with lid.
14.  Pour white vinegar or plum vinegar over the blossoms from the container.
15.  Seal the container with plastic wrap before you put the lid back on.  No weighted object is necessary for the lid.
16.  After one week, remove the blossoms from the container.
17.  Line the flat basket with paper towels and place the blossoms in the flat basket.
18.  Dry the blossoms in a dark area for 2-3 days.
19.  If the paper towel is wet, change the wet towel to a new one and put the blossoms back in a dark area.
20.  Lightly mix the pickled blossoms in a bowl with coarse salt.
21.  Keep in the closed glass jar until you want to use the salt.*
*Blossoms can be stored up to one year.
*The blossoms can be used to decorate rice cakes and cookies, as well as black or green tea.

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