what makes a great jasmine tea?

Drying green tea base

Before the green tea is scented, it needs to be roasted again. The additional dryness ensures optimal absorption of jasmine aroma on green tea leaf. The most suitable green tea base comes from Fujian, China where the tradition of jasmine tea craft has been around for centuries. Indeed, there are many possibilities when it comes to choosing a tea base. The green tea base also comes in different shape and grades, from loose leaf to pearl shaped leaf. Apart from green tea, one can also create white tea based jasmine tea amongst others.

Scenting

A lot of preparation is required before mixing jasmine with the tea base. While the green tea is being prepared, it is now time to sort the freshly picked jasmine flowers. Centuries of experience tells us that jasmine flowers which are slightly open, and in the shape of “tiger claws” are at their optimal timing to release aroma. Experienced workers quickly sift through piles of jasmine flowers to remove any non-desired flowers, readying for the scenting process to start.

First, the tea leaves and flowers are layered on top of each other repeatedly over ten times. The top layer is always tea base to prevent the aroma from escaping. Then, the layers are gently pushed open by turning the tea leaves to make sure the leaves and flowers mix thoroughly. 

The proportion of tea and jasmine used is crucial factor in determining final quality of jasmine tea. Generally, the more, higher quality flowers used, the better final result. 

Water is the carrier of jasmine aroma. The aroma substances slowly permeate through the leaf carried by the moisture vapour, via the leaf pores. Inside the leaf, complex chemical changes are also happening as bitter/astringent tasting catechin is transformed into sweetness. The original “cooling” properties of green tea is neutralised, as well as change in colour from green to pale yellow colour in the cup. Newly transferred jasmine aroma are allowed to settle on the green tea base by resting the tea with flows overnight. The temperature and humidity of the room is tightly regulated during this period.

Repeat Scenting and Finish

Used jasmine flowers are individually removed, and the newly scented green tea roasted to reduce its water content. This scenting process is then repeated with fresh flowers for anything between 2-8 times. After the final scenting step, jasmine flowers are simply removed without re-roasting to preserve the lively taste of the jasmine tea.

At the end of this long and laborious scenting process, the resulting jasmine tea is refreshingly sweet and salivating. A sip fills our body and mind with its perforating aroma is certain to awake our senses and appreciate all the preparation had been worthwhile.
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