Many tea blends in today’s marketplace identify themselves as “Lotus” teas, when in fact they are green and white teas of the Camellia sinensis variety. Art of Tea’s “Lotus Flower” is the actual flower, picked at its peak, intact, perfect, as the basis of a refreshing cup.
Green and white teas may be infused with Lotus essence by stuffing a Lotus flower with tea leaves and leaving them overnight, or by baking Lotus flowers with Camellia sinensis to infuse them with the floral scent. I prefer the purity of just this immaculate flower on its own.
In keeping with the concept of pure enlightenment, the primary virtue associated with the Lotus blossom across centuries of Egyptian, Hindu, Buddhist, Bahá’i and Confucian learning and practice, this elegantly simple offering contains no other ingredients, and is naturally caffeine-free. No additional perfumes or flavorings are added, because they are not needed.
The dried blossom is a thing of beauty, ranging in color from purple, pink or red through a range of yellow and white tones, depending upon the picking season. For a bright yellow infusion with an equally bright flavor, steep for 2-3 minutes. The dried flower is potent enough to be re-steeped four to five times for a satisfying replay.
The Lotus blooms in sacred iconography from India to the Nile delta, across China, Japan, Vietnam, and other cultural stops where Buddha, Ganesha, Shiva and others are revered.
One of the most archetypal thoughts associated with the Lotus is its quality of transformation, arising from mucky, muddy depths to offer a pristine, unstained blossom to the rays of the sun. For this reason, the Crown Chakra, the state of ultimate enlightenment, is often depicted as an unfolding Lotus of a thousand petals.
In some areas of Buddhist thought, the Lotus is also contemplated as a symbol of detachment, the process which is key to releasing one’s self from suffering, and which also facilitates this release in others. This meditation is often depicted in the way that rain collects in the upraised petals of the open Lotus. The petals collect only as much weight as they can bear, without breaking the stem. When the petals are filled with rain, they gently tip and release their burden to the pond, without resistance, regret, or attachment.
Today, water-lilies or Lotus plants are a popular aquaculture plant, adaptable to even the most urban settings. Hundreds of varieties, many fragrant and night-blooming, may be grown in a small tub—I favor treated rain-barrels—which can fit on a small terrace or patio. Even in the midst of the city, the radiant blossoms of the Lotus will attract dragonflies, large moths, bees and other remarkable creatures.
The Lotus blossom is a regal and soothing companion, whether steeped as a pristine botanical brew, or nurtured as a living plant.