In Japan the cherry blossom holds great symbolism – the beauty of the fleeting nature of life, every spring this is pronounced across the country. The blossoms are a symbol for new beginnings, with April the first day of the financial and academic year in Japan.
The significance of the cherry blossom tree in Japanese culture goes back hundreds of years. In their country, the cherry blossom represents the fragility and the beauty of life. It’s a reminder that life is almost overwhelmingly beautiful but that it is also tragically short. ~ Homaro Cantu
March to early May, cherry trees bloom all over Japan, the traditional custom of enjoying the transient beauty of flowers is known Hanami. The Japanese people continue the tradition of hanami, gathering in great numbers wherever the flowering trees are found. Hanami was first coined as a term kindred to cherry blossom viewing in the Heian era novel The Tale of Genji.
Cherry blossom tea is made with Japanese pickled cherry blossoms and is a major component of East Asian culture. It is more commonly known as sakura tea. The salt-pickled cherry blossoms are also used in a wide range of sweet dishes.
The sounds of the tea being made invite the peach blossoms to peep in through the window. ~Uson, quoted in Sasaki Sanmi, Sadô Saijiki
Ingredients and Preparation
Pickled sakura has 3 simple ingredients: cherry blossoms, salt and plum vinegar. Many recipes can be found for pickling your own sakura but these pickled cherry blossoms can be found also online. To prepare the tea just place a single flower in the bottom of a cup, then pour freshly boiled water over the blossom. Alternatively you can use the cherry blossoms as seasoning.
Sakura mochi is made up of a sweet pink mochi (a rice cake), red bean paste, then covered with a leaf of sakura tree. Sakura mochi is usually eaten on the 3rd of March which is Girl’s Day or Hinamatsuri, this treat is enjoyed throughout the spring time in Japan.
With May drawing to a close, we can make the most of the cherry blossom – check out Infuzed for more about tea!