Jasmine Tea: An Ancient Chinese Tea Variety
4 CommentsThursday, 26 October 2017 | The Tea Makers of London
Exploring the origins of scented teas from Fuzhou, Fujian, China.
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Jasmine flowers are renowned for their ornamental beauty and distinctively enticing fragrance. The small white flowers are used for decorations, perfumes and as a component in foods and beverages. Most commonly, jasmine flowers are used to scent Camellia Sinensis tea leaves. Jasmine tea is a Chinese speciality which is enjoyed all over the world and typically consists of a green or white tea base that has been naturally infused with jasmine buds and jasmine petals. The unique aroma and taste of jasmine beautifully compliments the grassy, vegetal and nutty notes of green and white teas. The flavours of jasmine infused teas are usually subtly sweet, refreshing and intensely fragrant.
The use of jasmine flowers to scent tea leaves dates back over 1000 years ago. Jasmine flowers originate from Persia - now known as Iran. It is believed that jasmine flowers were imported to China during the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD).
At The Tea Makers of London, we work closely with some of the very best tea farmers and tea producers in the world. We regularly visit local tea fields and production facilities to ensure that the teas we provide, are of the outmost quality available. The Camellia Sinensis leaves and flowers, used to make our jasmine teas, grow high in the Fujian mountains. Each tea in our Jasmine Tea Collection is sourced from the revered Fuzhou region of Fujian, China - which is the home of jasmine tea. In China, spring is the most important season of the year.
Fuzhou, Fujian, China - The Home of Jasmine Tea
The very first jasmine infused teas were produced in the Fuzhou region. According to historical records, jasmine has been growing in the Fuzhou area since the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD). However, it is believed that the production of jasmine tea in the region, only dates back as far as the Song Dynasty (960 - 1127 AD). Through trade routes, jasmine tea was exported to other areas of China and, ultimately grew in popularity across the country. Today, jasmine tea - which serves as a wonderful palate cleanser - is commonly served in Chinese restaurants all over the world.
Fuzhou is the capital of the famous Fujian province. Fujian is located on the southeast coast of mainland China. The province is mostly mountainous and has a subtropical climate with mild winters. The mild and humid climate of the area provides perfect growing conditions for jasmine plants as well as tea.
The Fujian province is one of the oldest and most highly revered tea districts in the world. The region is famous for its production of premium oolongs, Lapsang Souchong and, last but not least, Fuzhou Jasmine Tea. Furthermore, the processing techniques for oolong, white tea and black tea, all originate from this province.
Fuzhou Jasmine Tea is the most famous and revered jasmine tea in the world. Traditionally, Fuzhou jasmine tea was enjoyed by the working class, upper classes and literati alike.
The Making of Jasmine Tea
To make jasmine tea, Camellia Sinensis tea leaves are harvested during the spring. They are then stored until the summer when the jasmine flowers are ready to bloom. The jasmine flowers are harvested by hand, either in the morning or during the day. Only the buds that are ready to bloom are harvested. The flowers are then stored in a cool place until nightfall, when the flower petals open and release their enticing fragrance. Once the flowers have opened, the processes of making the tea can begin.
Fuzhou jasmine tea is produced by layering opened jasmine buds with baked green or white tea. The process is known as ‘scenting’. During the process, the tea leaves absorb the fragrant natural oils of the jasmine flowers and take on the sweet and refreshing flavour and aroma of the small white flowers. The scenting process lasts for approximately four hours. Repeating this process several times enhances the quality of the tea. The highest grades of jasmine teas, such as Dragon Pearl, are infused up to nine times. After infusion, the teas go through an additional step of drying.
Jasmine tea production is highly labour intensive, time consuming and requires a high level of skill and craftmanship. Perfecting the process requires years of experience and weeks of careful work.
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