In Australia, the traditional Mother’s Day flower is none other than the beautiful chrysanthemum. The reason for this is due, primarily, to them blooming at this time of the year – and maybe because they have “mum” at the end of their botanical name has something to do with it as well.
Growing chrysanthemums can be very rewarding which is supposedly why children offer them as gifts for Mother’s Day. The idea is it gives Mum a chance to spend some time in her garden on her special day or at least have some flowers on display for the next few weeks.
But, the real treat with these blooms is making chrysanthemum tea from its flowers. Traditionally tea is sourced from the leaves of the camellia sinensis shrub but Asians have been drinking tea made from the chrysanthemum flower for aeons.
There’s no magic or science to it. The tea is made from steeping dried flowers in pre-boiled hot water for a few minutes. The flavour infuses the water and Voila! you have chrysanthemum tea.
Fortunately the main variety of chrysanthemum, C. indicum, is the species most used in the making of this type of tea. It’s the common species that the Chinese utilise as well so if you can’t access chrysanthemum flowers from your garden you can often source them from good Chinese retail stores.
Much like our “normal” variety, chrysanthemum tea can be drunk hot or cold and there are many options to spice up your own recipe. Traditionally the tea is sweetened with rock sugar but this can be substituted for palm sugar if that is easier to source. Plus you can add flavourings like licorice root, wolfberries, jasmine flowers and fresh ginger.
So, rather than just handing your mum a chrysanthemum in a pot this Mother’s Day, give her some dried blooms and make her a cup of chrysanthemum tea to go with it.