For many tea drinkers, one of the best parts of the tea drinking process is when they can put life on hold for a short time and watch as the hot water causes the tea leaves to unfurl, a process this is greatly enhanced by the use of glass teaware. Check out this article for more on the spiritual and contemplative aspects of tea.
It’s not clear when the phrase “the agony of the leaves” first came into use, but it appears in the title of a 1996 book by Helen Gustafson called The Agony of the Leaves: The Ecstasy of My Life with Tea. It’s a phrase that refers to the process tea leaves undergo as they are steeped in hot water.
This is a process that helps contribute to the popularity of a tea called flowering tea, blooming tea or display tea, to name a few. Flowering tea, which can be made from different types of tea, is made by hand in various shapes and sizes but usually consists of a bunch of tea leaves tied tightly together.
As these blooms are steeped they begin to open up, which is dramatic and often reveals one or more flowers in its insides. Flowering teas are becoming increasingly popular these days and for a while could even be found in some Target stores.
For an informative look at tea growing and production refer to Journey Into Flowering Tea, a short video that recounts a trip to the tea-growing parts of China’s Yunnan province. The end of this video provides a good look at the labor intensive art of tying flowering teas by hand and also shows a flowering tea bloom unfolding.
For a variety of reviews of blooming teas – 16 in all – refer to the Teaviews Web site.