These days the sakura have started to blossom in Japan. In the old days, the Japanese women use to gather sakura flowers (especially the sakura kanzan type) and preserve them in salt.
From these flowers, kept fresh, a special tea was prepared, served at wedding ceremonies or other special occasions. The custom survived until today, even if there are now companies selling sakura tea (made with the same technique). The sakura tea is prepared like this:
- One or two sakura flowers (or petals, or buds) are put in warm water for about 5 minutes, to remove the salt
- The flowers are then put in a tea cup
- Hot water is poured over the sakura flowers and a teaspoon of salt water is added, depending on taste
Travel tip: At the Edo Tokyo Open Air Museum in Koganei Park, groups of volunteers are giving demonstrations of smoking out thatched-roof houses (to protect them against insects), by making a fire in the irori fireplace. On these occasions, tea is also served to the visitors. This is where I drank sakura tea for the first time, the cup from this picture.