What is Jasmine Pearl tea?
A high-quality Chinese jasmine green tea usually takes the shape of jasmine scented hand rolled ‘pearls’, each consisting of two young leaves and an unopened bud. These pearls unfurl in your cup, releasing the combined aromas of green tea and sweet jasmine. The tea leaves themselves have characteristic silver tips and are picked when young for a soft, subtle flavor. Jasmine pearl tea is a traditional Chinese staple. Loose leaf, unrolled type of jasmine green tea is also available; it should not considered to be inferior in any way.
The legend of the Dragon Pearl Tea
As per Chinese mythology, a young girl from a village near Fuzhou, Fujian Province, sought the help of a mystical dragon in curing her seriously ailing brother. The dragon is believed to have soared high up into the sky and developed a beautiful pearl on his chest. A droplet of water fell from this pearl and gave rise to a tea bush. The girl tended to this miraculous bush, picked its leaves, dried them with jasmine flowers, and shaped them into ‘dragon pearls’. Tea brewed from these pearls cured her brother and originated the tradition of drinking Jasmine green tea throughout the region.
The fruit of labor is the sweetest
Traditionally, real jasmine blossoms are added to quality Chinese green tea while tea leaves are still drying and easily absorb the flavor of natural flowers. After a few hours, the jasmine flowers are removed and replaced with fresh ones. The process might be repeated up to 7 times. Then, the tea leaves are rolled into tiny balls, preserving the scents inside. The process is laborious and time consuming, but the result is definitely worth it. Delicate jasmine flowers do not possess the strength of industrial flavorings and essential oils. The idea is that floral component should not dominate, but rather subtly complement the vegetal green tea flavor in your cup.
Jasmine green tea: tasting notes
Chinese Jasmine green tea makes a pale yellow infusion, balancing a strong, bold aroma with a crisp jasmine scent. “Sweet and floral tasting, with no bitterness”, this tea easily makes its way to the average green tea drinkers favorites list. It has a lingering aftertaste, and leaves you with “the presence of jasmine in the back of the throat”. The subtle, sweet floral tones make this a “delightful summer tea”, refreshing, sweet, tremendously fragrant.
Authentic Jasmine green tea will have a flowery taste, in addition to its floral smell. Lower quality commercially scented floral teas may be flavored with variety of essential oils, natural and artificial flavorings. The real thing will always be more subtle and delicate.
How do you make the best jasmine tea?
Start by purchasing high-quality tea that is scented with real jasmine blossoms. The scenting process itself is a complex exercise – you’ll usually find the best results in teas from the Fujian province. While steeping the tea, use pure (filtered) water at a temperature of about 176°F. Take just under 1 teaspoon of tea leaves for a single cup of jasmine green tea, and steep it for less than 2 minutes. These precautions will prevent the tea from getting bitter. Depending on your taste, you can try making a few more infusions, allowing the tea to steep for anywhere between 30 seconds and 1 minute at a time. Avoid adding sugar or honey to your jasmine green tea, and enjoy its natural and nuanced sweetness instead.