- Appearance — Can be found as dried elongated leaves, or the preferred pearl where the leaves are curled tightly into a ball.
- Smell — Floral and sweet
- Texture — Prepared correctly: smooth. Prepared incorrectly: powdery.
- Taste — Prepared correctly: floral, sweet, refreshing. Prepared incorrectly: Bitter, astringent.
- Sensation — Uplifting, relaxing.
The typical preparation of green tea requires camellia sinensis leaves to be harvested in the early spring when they are youngest. Its leaves are then dried either by steaming them or using an indirect heat source and stored through the spring and early summer until the jasmine blossoms are ready to be picked. The blossoms are harvested at peak summer during the middle of the day while the blossoms are closed. They are then intermingled with the tea leaves to begin the infusion process.* This can take place over a single night or up to several weeks depending on the harvester’s preference. The final step involves firing the jasmine blossoms alongside the tea leaves, although this is not required. During the firing process, the moisture is wicked out of the leaves and blossoms, thus transferring and sealing the remaining scent of the blossoms into the tea leaves. The tea is then sifted and then packaged to be sold. Occasionally, the blossoms are left in. This is for appearance only as the scent of the blossoms has been removed and transferred to the tea leaves.
*Because blossoms are expensive and time consuming to grow, some manufacturers will use jasmine oil or artificial flavoring to infuse the tea. Those interested in purchasing this tea should verify the ingredients or contact the manufacturer when researching authentic jasmine tea. While authentic Jasmine is more expensive, a high price does not necessarily verify the authenticity.
Grading is usually centered around how many times the tea leaves have been scented with jasmine, if at all. Some manufacturers scent the jasmine multiple times, others may not use jasmine blossoms at all. Authentic jasmine tea may require research and can be difficult to verify from out of country suppliers.
- Common Jasmine (Jasminum officiale)
- Sampaguita (Jasminum sambac)
Green teas used depend on the origin and manufacturer’s preference.
The origin of jasmine tea appears to be widely disputed. While green tea originated from China, the introduction of the jasmine plant is a controversial topic at best and a mystery at worst. Generally, the jasmine plant is thought to have originated in Persia, where it was introduced and cultivated in India and Indonesia. During the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD), it is thought that the jasmine plant was introduced to China using the Common Jasmine variety. The first known records of the scenting process for tea appears to be around the 5th Century AD. During the Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1912 AD), when mass production of tea to the west began to thrive, jasmine tea became more of a staple for China in terms of consumption as well as exports to foreign countries.
160-180°F/71-82°C for thirty seconds to three minutes. Ideal steeping for most bagged teas is approximately two minutes.
Brewing this tea with water that is too hot will cause the tea to taste powdery, bitter and more astringent. If one does not have an electric temperature regulated kettle, one can simply allow a pot of water to come to a boil and then immediately remove it from heat. After waiting approximately 45 seconds to 1 minute it can then be poured over the tea. One must be cautious not to oversteep the tea.
Health & Effects
The chemical compound linalool is known to provide mood boosting and relaxing effects. It is used for aromatherapy purposes outside of its use as a tea.
In Chinese culture, jasmine tea is served as a drink to welcome guests. The Fujian region was historically known as the jasmine tea capitol of the world. Jasmine flowers themselves are significant in that they are a symbol of loyalty between lovers. They are often used in weddings and purchased as wedding gifts. Part of the Song Dynasty’s proposal engagement and subsequent wedding ceremony involved the preparation of flower strings and drinking jasmine tea prepared by the groom’s family.
The production in this region fell away over the last century, but the reasons for that are unclear. Today, there are ongoing efforts to revive this particular variety of jasmine flower and style of tea. Ecosystem restoration and additional in-depth studies are required in order to recreate the balance necessary for this area to thrive once again in jasmine production.