Blooming Teas

If foodies have food porn, can tea geeks have tea porn?

I got a bunch of these display teas at Beijing's Maliandao, the street that has so many tea shops even the air outside smells like tea. These tiny bundles of flowers and green or black leaves are hand-packed and hand-sewn into various shapes. They unfurl into impressive little displays when steeped in hot water for about 3 minutes. It's like watching those little compact towels and sponges from theme park gift shops expand to "full size" when soaked, except less disappointing in the end.

(You can also find these online at sites like Adagio Teas or Silk Road Teas, but for heftier prices.)

The bloomed teas can be displayed in the center of a table and drunken at the same time. Tea shops will usually present these in big glass teapots, which I don't own. I did have fun watching these bloom in my mini glass tea set, beer mug, and other random see-through containers from my cabinet. Tonight also marks the first time I have ever sipped hot tea from a wine glass.