Chrysanthemum tea is a beverage made from the dried flowers of the chrysanthemum plant. The plant is native to China where it has been cultivated for over 2000 years. It appeared in Japan around 400 AD and was reputedly a gift brought from China. The use of the beverage made from the flowers of the plant goes back hundreds of years in both the Chinese and Japanese cultures.
The flower is symbolic of abundance and longevity in many Asian cultures. The chrysanthemum blooms in the colder days of late autumn, has many petals and is popular in floral arrangements because it can remain fresh up to four weeks after being cut. The hardiness of the cut flower and the fact that the plant blooms after most flowering plants have gone dormant for the winter may have contributed to the plant's reputation for promoting longevity and delaying the aging process.
The Chinese believe that chrysanthemum tea has many health benefits and it is used as a remedy for a wide variety of ailments including hypertension, upper respiratory infections, neurological disorders, diseases of the eye and angina. Daily consumption of the tea is supposed to delay the signs of aging and improve the condition of skin. It may also be used for treatment of arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. There is little clinical support for most of the uses of the tea, but it is a staple of traditional Chinese medicine.
Where Do Chrysanthemums Grow?
The first European chrysanthemums appeared in the Netherlands in the 15th century and probably traveled along trade routes from China or Japan. Today, chrysanthemums are the 5th most cultivated flowering plant in the world. Hardy and easy to grow, they are popular with gardeners in Britain, the U.S., most European countries and, of course, China and Japan. The tisane made from the flowers traveled with the plants and it is especially popular in hot climates since it can reduce elevated body temperature making imbibers feel cooler.
Availability of Chrysanthemum Tea
Dried chrysanthemum flowers used to make the tea are available from a range of commercial sources, but some gardeners prefer to cultivate, harvest and dry the blooms themselves. The tea is commercially sold either as loose dried flowers or as tea bags and is available in most stores that carry a good selection of herbal teas. If the tea is not available through a local grocery store, it is carried by many health food retailers. It may be found with herbal remedies in shops that specialize in alternative medicines.
Will Any Chrysanthemum Flowers Work?
While all chrysanthemums are edible, the tea is most often made from white or yellow spray varieties. Spray chrysanthemums are relatively small blooms with multiple flowers on a single stem. Hybrid varieties feature single blooms as large as 4 inches across on a stem and are used more for visual effect than for consumption. In addition to the tea, chrysanthemums are often used fresh cut in salads to add flavor and color. Chrysanthemum blooms come in many shades of red, orange, bronze and even purple, but these are not used for tea.
Chrysanthemum tea is a refreshing beverage and may have health benefits that have not yet been fully explored by science. As researchers explore ancient Chinese herbal remedies, they are finding many of these therapies are effective in treating or preventing many diseases.