The best jasmine teas are crafted using high quality tea which is naturally scented with fresh jasmine flowers for lasting floral fragrance.
What is Jasmine Tea?
Essentially Jasmine tea is any tea that has been scented or fragranced with jasmine flowers. You can find examples using any tea type – from white to black, but white and green teas (like those produced Fuzhou, China, where this style of tea was innovated centuries ago) are still the most commongive the sweetest flavour, complementing the bright fragrance of jasmine, while providing satisfying texture and body to the infusion.
Is It Really Seasonal?
Yes! The best are crafted using a base of single garden green or white tea, which is picked in the spring in China – utilising the freshest young buds and leaves that begin to flourish from March to April to craft teas with a sweet and smooth taste. There’s much anticipation for the arrival of the jasmine blooms in early summer. Much like our tea leaves, the precious jasmine flowers can only be harvested in the warmer months of the year when they come into season in places like Fujian and Guangxi in China, producing delicate flower buds which are carefully selected for scenting.
What to Look for When Choosing Jasmine Tea
There are two key things to look for. First up, choose a tea made with high quality tea leaves. The tea base should work in harmony with the sweet jasmine fragrance, rather than distract with any bitterness. Think, if the tea wouldn’t taste good on its own then adding jasmine fragrance certainly won’t help. The tea base will also create the texture and structure of your drink, which should be thick and smooth. So, look for a whole leaf grade white or green tea, preferably from a single garden, to ensure it has been crafted with care and expertise.
Secondly, choose a naturally scented tea. There are a few ways in which the tea can be scented - something to watch out for is artificial scenting with oils (always check the ingredients list on the label as it’s quite common). They tend to have a 'fake' taste and a darker orange colour due to the low-quality tea used for the base. Natural scenting means the tea leaves are laid amongst fresh jasmine blossoms for five consecutive nights, allowing the essence of the jasmine flowers to naturally imbue into the tea. It's a labour of love, but well worth it for a fully intense and long-lasting taste of jasmine. You’ll find this in our Jasmine Silver Needle or Jasmine Pearls.
How is Jasmine Tea Drunk in China?
In China, tea is an important part of culture with a commitment to the highest quality of tea production meaning that it is often enjoyed on its own as to not distract from the flavour and experience. However, a few places do enjoy jasmine tea with food. In Sichuan province, in West China, tea drinkers infuse a lot of ‘Piaoxue’, a locally produced strong green tea that’s blended with jasmine flowers. This usually helps to cleanse the palate from the hot and spicy food that Sichuan is known for – the jasmine makes the tea taste much sweeter, which might offset the intense heat.
Head to any Dim Sum restaurant in Hong Kong in South East China, and you’ll often be greeted with a big pot of tea, which is usually Jasmine. This helps to cut through some of the heavier flavours and textures of glazed meat and fried dumplings that you might be enjoying.
Did You Know?
Many Chinese people also use whole, dried jasmine flowers as a herbal infusion called ‘Mo Li Hua’ in Mandarin. This doesn’t contain any tea, but is still floral, sweet and often drunk on its own without food for the Chinese medicinal purposes of balancing the body’s Qi with its warming properties.
Pair with Food. What Goes Well with Jasmine Tea?
“To start, it’s all about choosing between white or green jasmine tea”, says Tom, our Head of Tea:
“If you’re looking for a sweet and refreshing green tea that works with Chinese flavours like the richer garlic and oyster sauce you’ll find in Hong Kong, or chilli and peppercorn in a more Sichuanese style; then I’d say our Jasmine Pearls is perfect. The green tea base has plenty of body without being bitter or heavy, while retaining plenty of the floral high notes. Whereas a tea like Jasmine Silver Needle is much more about aroma and might pair better with delicate desserts to compliment fruitier flavours, or even some lighter savoury courses where the floral fragrance might contrast a peppery salad leaf like rocket.
One of my favourite ways to drink it during a meal is to try it as a palate cleanser. I’ve worked on this with lots of our restaurant partners and we’ve found the best way to do this is to try Jasmine Silver Needle cold-infused and serve it between courses. Cold infusing the tea brings out the characteristic notes of melon and cucumber from the silver needle white tea base, with lots of sweetness from the jasmine fragrance. In serving I like to add a raspberry or strawberry garnish, both of which pair excellently to add a slightly tart finish.”
We also asked former food writer and now Founder of single origin spice brand, Rooted Spices, Rachel, what food she would pair our Jasmine Silver Needle with. Here’s what she said:
“The flavour profile makes me think of Gewürztraminer with that kind of lychee-honey-floral sweetness. I'd have it in the morning with a bowl of Greek yoghurt, honey, granola and perhaps mango. And in the afternoon with some baklava or a madeleine. If you were drinking it cold-infused, then the fragrant notes would work perfectly with the aromatic spiciness of Southeast Asian style dishes.”
Pair Jasmine Tea with Food - How to Make Cold Infused Jasmine Tea
It’s really easy to make – simply add your tea to a bottle or jug of cold filtered water and leave it to infuse. This works best if you leave it overnight in the fridge to fully extract the sweet flavour, then pour over ice for maximum refreshment. We like to make it in litre batches to have enough for a long, hot day or to serve throughout a summer party. It’s also a great alcohol alternative that’s sure to be just as much of a crowd pleaser.
Method: 1litre of cold filtered water; 18g of tea; leave to infuse for 4-8 hours in the fridge.