The flowers are what got me. Beautiful delicate pops of yellow dancing softly next to the ornamental cabbage and red kale in the nursery’s greenhouse. I reached for the plastic 4 inch pot and put my nose to the flower. Nothing special but it was still pretty. I put the plant in my basket. “Why not?” I thought and moved on to the geraniums.
Hon Tsai Tai is another Oriental vegetable in the same choy family as Komatsuna. It has purple stalks, green leaves, and sporty yellow flowers. This plant requires full sun and a lot of water. It is a little thing, though, only getting up to 10 inches tall and 4 inches wide at maturity. Put down your transplants in early fall. It can tolerate a couple of frosts but nothing too intense. If you are trying to propagate seeds, sow them in the late summer. Hon Tsai Tai takes over 100 days to reach maturity so you’ll want to get an early start.
Of course there’s what the plant likes on one hand and what I’m willing to do on the other. The Hon Tsai Tai is treated much like Komatsuna. It gets about two hours of direct sunlight and an inch of water weekly. I think it likes San Antonio’s alkaline water. There’s none of that weird discoloration that I usually notice with new transplants. This is what it looks like as of January 11:
The above plant is kept in a pot just in case I have to pull it inside one night. It gets more sunlight and more water as a result. #I’mLazyAndIKnowIt
I sauted the leaves in olive oil and sea salt and they reminded me of mustard greens. I expected something sweeter. At first, I worried that not pinching back the flowers (i.e. allowing it to bolt) effected its flavor. Come to find out that the whole thing is edible anyway and that’s just what it tastes like. I’m not the biggest fan of this plant but I really like the flowers!
Have you ever tried Hon Tsai Tai? What did you think of it? Would you consider adding it to your own garden?