Tea and the Cherry Blossom Festival

There are cherry trees in our nation’s capital city. I was lucky enough years ago to have been there when cherry blossoms were in bloom. Now, I toast them from afar with a nice cuppa tea!

The kettle is on for a Cherry Blossom tea time! (ETS image)
The kettle is on for a Cherry Blossom tea time! (ETS image)

About the D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival

The cherry trees growing in Washington, D.C., date back to 1912. They were a gift to the United States from Japan, a symbol of friendship. The presenter of this gift was the Mayor of Tokyo, Yukio Ozaki, with wishes for continued close relations between us. These trees are actually the second batch that was sent. The first batch of 2,000 was shipped in 1910 but arrived diseased. A new batch of 3,000 trees was sent and arrived in 1912. President William Howard Taft’s wife, First Lady Helen Herron Taft joined with Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, in planting the first two trees on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park (the area is ringed now with these beautiful trees).

The Cherry Blossom Festival has grown over the years, as such things do, starting in 1927 when school children held a re-enactment of that first tree planting. In 1935, civic groups added activities. In 1994, two weeks were added, making it a total of 16 days long, to cover more of the blooming period of the trees. In 2012, the festival was again lengthened, this time to a total of 5 weeks (35 days – so almost double), to hold a grand tribute on the 100th anniversary of the planting of those first trees. And it is now the greatest Springtime celebration in the U.S. with over 1.5 million visitors each year enjoying the gorgeous site of those blooms, especially when seen reflected in the waters of the Tidal Basin.

The Perfect Tea for “Blossom Gazing”

What could be more appropriate than Sencha Kyoto Cherry Rose Festival Green Tea. There isn’t actually such a festival. But Kyoto has various other festivals, including Aoi Matsuri (“Hollyhock Festival”), Gion Matsuri (“Gion Festival”) named after the Gion district of the city, Bon Festival (a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one’s ancestors), and  Jidai Matsuri (“Festival of the Ages”) to celebrates Kyoto’s past.

This tea gives you that sense of something a-bloom, of Spring approaching. The base tea is a high quality green tea (Chinese in origin but processed similar to Japanese sencha). It’s flavored with natural cherry flavoring and rose petals that combine in a wonderfully exotic manner. Having been at the festival in DC, I can say that a sip of this tea is almost like being there. Just be sure to steep in water heated only to 160°F and only for about 2 minutes. Too hot of water and too long of steep will draw out some of the bitter elements from the tea leaves.

If you’re visiting that Cherry Blossom Festival this year, carry along your travel mug filled with this tea and combine tea enjoyment with the beauty of nature. For those of us enjoying from afar, a toast of the teacups will suffice. *CLINK!*

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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