The Flower of Life
“If you would be happy for a lifetime, grow Chrysanthemums.” –Chinese philosopher
In the United States, chrysanthemums, or “mums” as we call our common garden variety, are the “Queen of the Fall Flowers.” Their hardy flowers bloom and out-last other flowers as the days shorten in the fall. While we associate the flower with happy feelings, other cultures use this flower as a memorial on graves, giving off a different sentiment.
Chrysanthemums are native to the Far East, where some of their species are commonly used as food and medicine. A tea made from an infusion of chrysanthemum flowers is one of China’s most popular herbal teas — think of it as the chamomile of the East.
Chrysanthemum’s use was first recorded in China where all parts of the plant were grown to be eaten. The boiled roots were thought to cure a headache, petals and young sprouts were used in salads and leaves were used as a festive drink. It has been seen to have a whole slew of health benefits, from heart health and longevity to calming the mind and keeping it sharp. As an herb it was thought to have “the power of life”.
Modern chrysanthemum tea as it is popularly sold is almost always very sweetened (and too sweet for me!) The tea from the flowers is bitter, but also has some sweetness of its own so I recommend brewing it, trying it and then adding a little sweetener to taste.
Chrysanthemum Flower Infusion (Herbal Tea)
Dried chrysanthemum flowers (from a tea shop, health food store or online)
Fill teapot 1/2 full with chrysanthemum flowers.
Pour boiling water over the top to fill the cup or pot.
Let steep for 20 minutes.
Add honey to taste.