Saffron: The World’s Most Legendary Spice
May 13, 2022
Saffron is known as the world’s most expensive spice. It has been cultivated for thousands of years in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, and its history is steeped in ancient lore. But what exactly is saffron, and why is it so highly treasured? Keep reading to learn everything tea drinkers should know about the world’s most legendary spice.
Saffron Origins & History
Saffron is a spice derived from the dried, crimson-colored stigma and styles of the Crocus sativus flower. It is believed to have originated in Greece, Iran and Mesopotamia, where it has been cultivated for more than 5,000 years. Ancient Minoan pottery and frescoes recovered from the island of Crete depict saffron being harvested. Saffron also appears in ancient Greek poetry and mythology. Throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East, saffron has long been used for both medicinal and culinary purposes. Artisans of the ancient world also used saffron to dye textiles, though these fabrics were extremely rare and expensive. Even then, saffron was the world’s costliest spice by weight.
How Saffron is Harvested
Why is saffron so expensive? The answer lies in its laborious harvest and production process. Saffron is planted from July through September, and is hand-harvested between late October
and early November, when the stigmas are at their reddest and most vibrant. The plant must be harvested in the early hours of the morning, as picked saffron quickly loses its color and flavor
when exposed to sunlight. Each saffron flower produces just three stigmas, which are carefully plucked from the flowers and dried at low temperatures. It takes approximately 225,000 stigmas harvested from 75,000 flowers to produce just one pound of saffron spice. This tedious, labor-intensive process is the reason saffron is the world’s most expensive spice.
Premium Saffron Tea
Saffron has a unique sweet-savory flavor and distinct aroma that elevates anything it is paired with, making it a wonderful addition to herbal tea blends.
The Republic of Tea’s Saffron Rose Herbal Tea features premium saffron from Rumi Spice, blended with delicate rose petals. The result is a cup that is smooth, bright and ethereal.
Rumi Spice & Afghan Saffron Rumi Spice is a public benefit corporation that supplies premium Afghan saffron. It was founded with the mission of economically empowering Afghan farmers — especially women, who make up nearly half of Afghanistan’s population yet just sixteen percent of the workforce.
Afghanistan’s climate is ideal for growing saffron and other artisanal spices, allowing Rumi to produce some of the world’s highest quality saffron. The company employs female farmers in Afghanistan to hand-harvest and process the delicate crimson stigmas of the saffron flowers.
By connecting Afghan farmers with the global market, Rumi Spice has provided job opportunities for over 3,750 women in Afghanistan, and has helped to grow the country’s agricultural infrastructure and economic potential.
We are pleased to share Saffron Rose Herbal Tea featuring premium Afghan saffron with our
Citizens, and hope you have enjoyed learning about the world’s most legendary spice.