Late season roses are fragrant, but harvesting their blooms can be bittersweet. The flowers are beautiful, but there's a chill in the air, and spring is a long way off no matter how you look at it. Be sure to prune your roses to prep them for winter, but before you do, harvest a few cups of rose petals for winter rose tea. Made with a mixture of China tea and dried rose petals, rose tea has a mild flavor and very fine aroma that will bring back the sensory impression of your summer garden -- even if it's currently sleeping under a coverlet of snow.
I like Oolong or Darjeeling, but almost any China tea will do. Here's a recipe to try. Even if you're just an occasional tea drinker, you'll be surprised at how refreshing and rewarding this tea can be on a cold fall or winter afternoon:
Rose Petal Tea Recipe (bulk)
- 1/4 cup dried rose petals
- 1 cup dry China tea (Darjeeling, Oolong, English Breakfast or other)
Use a quarter of a cup of petals for each cup of tea leaves.
It's practical to mix up a batch and use it as needed. Store it in a tin with a tight fitting lid.
To brew a cup, follow the package directions for the base China tea you're using.
Rose tea is very nice when served with biscuits and jam. If you like your tea sweet, honey is delicious with rose tea.
Tips for Making Rose Petal Tea:
Use roses that are free of pesticides. If you collect rose hips or use roses for crafting, this may not be difficult. If you don't have pesticide free roses this season, bring on a couple of your most fragrant varieties for next year and use organic protection methods to make them available for culinary use (that way you can make rose wine, too).
Blown blooms (fully mature flowers) that haven't browned will make the most flavorful tea petals.
Rose petals dry quickly if you're using a heat source, so watch them closely to make sure they don't scorch. They should be "shatter" dry, but not brown. In a dehydrator, they just take a couple of hours to dry completely (in a single layer).
The most fragrant rose varieties typically make the best tea.
Although you can use any color of rose, you may find that sticking with a single color or color range makes the most visually appealing tea. This may be an issue if you're giving rose tea as a gift. (It does make a lovely gift.)
Photo2 Credit Photo courtesy of Andrzej Gdula http://www.sxc.hu/photo/965011 965011_chinese_cup.jpg