Sakura is Japanese for Cherry Blossom. This is one tea which is well-traveled, literally, as Sakura is the only tea that been to space (in 2005 with astronaut Mamoru Mouri.)
It's around this time of the year, Japan celebrates Cherry Blossom Flower Viewing. Japanese turn out in large numbers at parks, shrines, and temples with family and friends to hold flower-viewing parties. However, given the recent catastrophic events in Japan, I am told this year, the mood is subdued and there are official requests to refrain from hosting Flower Viewing parties in Tokyo.
It was not long ago a colleague from Japan brought me this tea. With my cup of Sakura, I grabbed a cushion, settled down with a book and a few French Palmiers; but it's so difficult to concentrate on the reading. With every sip I'm transported to the thoughts of my friends in Japan and the wonderful memories we've shared together.
As I blankly stare in to my tea cup in daydreaming, I acknowledge that a lot of who I am today in my professional work comes from values I imbibed from my Japanese colleagues. Come to think of it, my love for tea also stems from learning how tea is practiced in Japan and their high regard for it in Japanese culture and traditions. I think it's always nice to be grateful for your learnings and it's only apt that I dedicate this post to all my Japanese friends from past, present and future.
On this summer afternoon in Mumbai, Sakura tea has got me in a reflective mood with its mild flavour. Just like all floral teas, it has health benefits related to skin. It is also a ritual to eat the cherry blossoms just before you finish the last few sips. Here's a step-by-step guide on how it's brewed traditionally in Japan. Sakura Tea spells celebration! Salt-pickled cherry blossoms in hot water is called Sakurayu, and drunk at festive events like weddings in place of Green Tea.
Sakura tea is reserved for special occasion but I believe any day with a new tea and old memories is special enough. Itadakimasu!