When I first arrived in Asia years ago and asked my new colleagues about local iced tea, their immediate answer was “You have to try a chrysanthemum iced tea, dude!” Even though, I had noticed the offering in local 7/11 type of stores back at home, in Czech Republic, it is not commonly used there so I did not pay it any attention.
Chrysanthemum plays a significant role and symbolism across many cultures around the globe. For example, in Europe the incurve chrysanthemum symbolizes death and in Asia it is a symbol of love & cheerfulness (depending on the colour of the flower). In China, they hold an annual chrysanthemum festival in Tongxiang, near Hangzhou as well as an ancient city (Xiaolan Town of Zhongshan City) which is now named Ju-Xian, which means “chrysanthemum city”. In Japan the chrysanthemum is a symbol of the Emperor and the Imperial Family.
Glebionis coronaria is a leaf vegetable native to Mediterranean region as well as East Asia. As the plant is rich in minerals, vitamins and also contains various antioxidants, it is no surprise that it is used in many Asian cuisines.
There are many varieties of chrysanthemum and the most popular ones across East Asia are the Chrysanthemum morifolium of Chrysanthemum indicum. Especially in China where they are turned into tea together with rock or cane sugar and occasionally with wolfberries. Chrysanthemum tea is thought to have many medicinal properties as well, so it is advisable to be careful when mixing them with alcohol.
60 ml London dry gin
30 ml Lemon juice
20 ml Chrysanthemum syrup*
Splash of soda
Combine the first 3 ingredients into a shaker, add ice and hard shake. Strain into a chilled glass and splash with soda, for gentle fizziness. Garnish with an edible flower.
Use dried chrysanthemum flower buds and cook them into a tea, once the infusion is up to your liking, add an equal part of sugar and stir until sugar dissolves, strain flower buds and keep refrigerated.
Bartenders note: “The younger the flower is, the more delicate flavours it has. The older it gets, the more bitter it becomes.”