Chinese black tea with rose petals and scent
Roses are an emblem of England. We’re constantly growing them, pruning them, giving them as expressions of love or guilt. But we don’t tend to eat them.
It’s different in the middle east, where rosewater is a traditional and popular drink; or south Asia, where rose is a popular ice cream flavour; or China, where tea has been blended skilfully with roses for centuries. There is a niche in Britain for Turkish Delight, but it is, well, Turkish, rather than a native concoction. What’s the aversion to using roses in food here? Is rose tea considered a waste of a good flowerbed? Will the Horticultural Society turn us in?
Fortunately, the Chinese are enthusiastic blenders of rose tea, along with other traditional flower blends such as jasmine, orchid and chrysanthemum. Mellow black tea leaves are mixed with rose petals and left to absorb the aroma, creating a gently perfumed flavour suitable to be drunk black or with a little milk. Say it with flowers: Yum.