Magnificent temple complexes, some nearly engulfed by huge trees, captivate.
This is Cambodia, once part of the China-India-Southeast Asia trade route.
It is also home to a Cambodian subspecies of tea, Camellia assamica subspecies lasiocalyx, although an article published in 2016 maintains it is more accurately a variety and not a subspecies.
Either way, lasiocalyx grows as a tree, around 15 feet high, as opposed to Camellia sinensis, which is considered a bush, although it too can reach 15 feet high. (C. sinensis is native to China whereas C. assamica is native to India.)
Also found in Cambodia is lotus tea.
The lotus “symbolizes purity, beauty, majesty, grace, fertility, wealth, richness, knowledge and serenity” (The Flower Expert) and is entwined in the artwork, culture, and religions of Asia.
All parts of the lotus plant are edible, and the light pink petals interspersed with tea leaves make a pretty composition.
Although the package of this lotus tea (Product of Cambodia for Artisans Angkor by Senteurs d’Angkor), brought back from Cambodia by my daughter and son-in-law, says it is a “black tea delicately flavored with lotus from Cambodia,” the loosely rolled leaves look far more like green, or a green oolong, tea.
The brewed cup is an antique gold color, with an aroma lightly floral, reminiscent of jasmine.
With a subtle floral flavor—more on the vegetal bright side than oxidized—this tea agrees with its aroma and reminds of jasmine green tea. It is not sweet, and is overall a very delicate (and delightful) tea.
Sipping lotus tea conjures up images of Cambodia for my daughter and her husband:
seeing lotus flowers across from the rice fields while traveling a red dirt road on a tuk tuk,
strolling through a temple with the pleasant wafting of incense.
Tea can take you across the world. . . .
–Das, A. P. and C. Ghosh. “New combination name for the Cambod variety of tea,” Pleione 10(1):167–68. 2016.
–The Flower Expert. “Lotus flowers,” www.theflowerexpert.com/content/aboutflowers/exoticflowers/lotus.
–Pettigrew, J. The Tea Companion, Running Press, Philadelphia, 2004.