Guilin literally means “forest of Sweet Osmanthus” in Chinese; Gui 桂 – sweet osmanthus, and Lin 林 = forest. The evergreen Osmanthus trees grows everywhere in and around the city. Autumn is the season of the sweet osmanthus. The blossoms grow in small bunches and give off a rich, heady perfume. Naturally, the locals have a passion for sweet osmanthus, and its flowers have been widely used into the cooking.
Chinese people were cooking with flowers over 2,000 years ago. Recipes that incorporate edible flowers can be date throughout various dynasties. Flowers has been widely as ingredients, seasoning and garnish in Chinese food. Various flower cuisines were invented, including cakes, soups and dishes. Actually, flowers were included in the diet not only for their attractive colors and fragrances, but have medicinal benefits as dietary therapy.
Osmanthus flower, called guihua 桂花 in Chinese, has a uniquely sweet and buttery fragrance. There are many ways to use the tiny golden-yellow osmanthus flowers in food, drinks or even skincare. After harvested and dried, they can used to produce osmanthus-scented tea, wine, cakes, wine, sauces amd even dishes.
Osmanthus Tea – (guìhuāchá, 桂花茶)
The osmanthus flowers are used as an infusion on their own after being properly dried. Also, they can be infused with black, green or oolong tea leaves to creat a scentd tea. The easiest way to make this tea is to simply pour hot water over the flowers which are held in some kind of tea strainer. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) claims that a cup of osmanthus tea each day can improve complexion.
Osmanthus Rice Cake – (guìhuāGāo, 桂花糕)
Guilin has a very delicate candy called Osmanthus rice cakes. They are made with sugar, osmanthus and glutinous rice flour. These cakes are steamed over a hot fire and, when take out, ready to eat. The overall taste of this sweet dessert is fragrant with the infused scent of osmanthus.
Osmanthus Wine 桂花酒 – (guìhuāJiu, 桂花酒)
Osmanthus flowers can be used to flavor rice wine, an old tradition for centuries. In Guilin, the Sanhua alcohol is infused with osmanthus to make an aromatic wine – Osmanthus Wine. It has a sweet and sour taste. For its lightness and skincare, Osmanthus Wine often called “lady’s wine”.