Thursday, August 03, 2006
Jasmine tea - there are many varieties of jasmine tea, from china and Taiwan. Common ones from China are in dragon pearl (3 or 4 leave tips rolled into a ball), twisted knots or dragon fly (single leave tip in knotted or dragon fly shape), and small pearl forms (single leave tip rolled into small pellet). Taiwan on the other hand is loose leaves of green tea mixed with jasmine buds. The lowest grade (dim sum) of jasmine from China is also processed the same way as Taiwan. There is an overwhelming demand for jasmine tea in the west. Methods of processing of jasmine tea have also been altered to meet the demand with competitive price. Dragon pearl jasmine tea are commonly scented with artificial flavor. Tea leaves has an amazing absorbing property which made it possible to add floral fragrance for flavoring enhancement. Traditional process of jasmine tea is long and tedious. When green tip tea is picked and processed into dry readily drinkable tea, fresh jasmine flower buds are wrapped in cloth bags, placed in container containing dried tea leaves, sealed for over night, allowing the leaves to absorb the moisture full of jasmine fragrance. The flowers are then taken out next day, tea leaves are baked lightly to allow moistures to evaporate. New batch of fresh jasmine flowers are placed in sealed container along with tea leaves again for another night of absorption. This process repeats 7 to 10 days for maximum flavoring.
The difference in taste is rather noticeable. In dry form, artificial flavored jasmine tea associates with a sharp perfume like smell, rather intense and pungent. The naturally infused jasmine tea, on contrary, has a mellow, mild lingering aroma which is very refreshing with a hint of sweetness in the air. The former tea taste also has a sharp chemical flavor, while the later is smooth and sweet, subtle fragrance of jasmine flows above puff by puff. The former will lose the aroma quick after the first brew, while the later can last 3 or more brews. I saved a small amount of a small pearl jasmine tea I came across in Harbin, China 8 years ago. The fragrance still lingers today without a staled smell. Wonderful tea! See picture.