A brew made with dried carnation flowers is often referred to as carnation tea. There is no tea in carnation flower brew. But it is refreshingly wonderful beverage. And drinking it may have health benefits too.
Above, dried carnation flowers. Yep, the same flower that, when fresh, is often pinned on the lapel of the suit of the male family members at weddings. The scientific name is Dianthus caryophyllus and the original color is pink although variants that yield red, yellow and white flowers are cultivated.
Cultural significance of carnation
Carnation doesn’t appear to be native to Asia. Its origin is mostly associated with the Mediterranean region. There is even a hair-raising Greek legend attached to it.
The Roman goddess Diana saw a young shepherd boy and fell in love with him. But the boy didn’t feel the same way and turned her down. Diana got angry so she ripped the boy’s eyes out and threw them to the ground. Later in the same place, carnations sprouted.Source
How the plant found its way to Asia isn’t clear (I’d guess via the old Silk Road) but it has become a prominent fixture in Asian cultures.
Korean Culture: The Koreans use the carnation to foretell the fortune of young girls. Upon placing three freshly cut carnations in her hair, the young girl is charged with observing which of the three will die first. If the top flower dies off first, it indicates that the latter years of the girl’s life will be filled with strife. If the middle flower fades first, it indicates she will experience turmoil during her youth. If the lower flower dies and fades first, it indicates that the young woman will face great challenges throughout her lifetime.
Chinese Culture: The carnation is used in weddings in China. In fact, it is the most common flower used in Chinese wedding ceremonies.
Japanese Culture: In Japan, the red carnation symbolizes love and is the most common flower for Mother’s Day.Source
Drinking carnation flower brew might have health benefits
But why would anyone drink a brew made with carnation flowers? There are people who like to sip naturally flavored but unsweetened drinks, hot or cold, and I am one of them. If the supposed health benefits of drinking carnation flower brew, which range from getting rid of wrinkles to fighting depression, hallelujah for those bonuses. I tried it because I wanted to know what it tastes like.
Is there a right and wrong way of making carnation flower brew?
I made my carnation flower brew in pretty much the same way I make tea. I poured newly boiled water into my cup and teapot, then threw the water away. I dropped dried carnation flowers into the pot and counted 40 seconds to allow the water temperature to drop a bit before filling the teapot. Then, I counted the minutes.
The flavor of carnation flower brew depends on how long you allow the flowers to steep in hot water. Steep for two to three minutes and you get a brew with a subtle floral taste but not much aroma. Steep the flowers for four to five minutes and the brew turns a bit tangy.
Can carnation flower brew be drank cold like fruit juice?
Yes. Steep the flowers like you were making a hot drink. After four to five minutes, strain the liquid. Cool and chill. Or add ice. Sweetener is optional.