The history of blooming tea is somewhat clouded in mystery, but what we do know is that it comes to us from the mountainous southern region of China in the Yunnan province. Yunnan province is said to be the birthplace of tea, which according to botanical scientists is in its modern form a hybridization of species that were present in the 19th and 20th centuries. Artisans high in the Yunnan Mountains are responsible for producing much of the flowing tea bundles packaged for markets around the world, although others outside the regions have begun replicating the craftsmanship to introduce the delicacy to a wider audience.
In China where tea is part of an ancient history of ritual and reverence, blooming tea is called Gong Yi Hua Cha, quite literally translated to “art flower tea” or also known as “flowering tea”. There is no actual written record documenting the advent of flowering tea blooms in Chinese history, so many tea aficionados claim that blooming tea is a fairly recent invention created only in the mid-1980’s. Historians claim there literary proof does exist to back up the claim that flowering tea is at least hundreds of years old. Chinese literary references in texts and pictures depict type of flower tea bloom, which supports the claim that at least the concept of shaping tea leaves into artful forms is hundreds of years old. The art of crafting display teas is a documented fact going back to the mid 10th century C.E., where display tea was used in Chinese royal courts for its visual appeal and never enjoyed as an actual beverage, but this documentation does not include mention of flowering tea.
To be certain, many of the tea blooms available today are very recent creations. Artisans today labor to produce the most elegant blooming flowering teas and are only limited only by their creativity and patience in crafting beautiful works of liquid art. Artisans in Yunnan province still hand make wonderful blooming tea bundles that when steeped in hot water slowly unfurl to produce an exquisite experience, equal parts visual, aromatic, and flavor. It’s thanks to them that the rest of the world is able to enjoy and experience these wonderful works of artistic delicacy.