Jasmine Pearls Green Tea
There’s something indisputable about the esteem and popularity of a good cup of Jasmine Pearls, the famous Chinese green tea scented with jasmine; each pearl revealing a deeply floral aroma, sweet, honey-like liquor, full body and long-lasting finish. No question, it’s a clear favourite among tea drinkers both new and seasoned. As a staple in any serious tea stash and on many restaurant menus, its presence is almost as inescapable as its powerful scent. So, what separates an ordinary jasmine scented green tea from a great one?
For JING, the story of jasmine pearls brings to life the art and mastery of scented teas. Known as ‘Mo Li Long Zhu’ in Mandarin, good quality Jasmine Pearls can be hard to find as their production involves many stages of hand-processing. Don’t be fooled into thinking that any tea labelled ‘Jasmine Pearls’ is good – the name itself doesn’t denote quality. First and foremost, great Jasmine Pearls depend on an expert team of people, skilled and experienced growers, pickers, and processors, as well as quality tea plants grown in the precise environment of their authentic origin.
Where does it all start?
This tea begins life in Fujian province, China. Each year, as spring arrives and the tea plants begin to flourish, the freshest buds and young leaves are picked and used to produce a high-quality green tea; the buds will provide a thick body and sweetness, while the top leaves will give the tea a depth of flavour. Just before processing of the green tea is finished and tea leaves are still supple enough, an experienced master will begin the process of rolling the leaves into pearls.
They pick up a few buds at a time, roll them together between their fingers then twist them into paper to create and maintain their pearl shape. After 24 hours or so they are unwrapped, fully dried and carefully stored for a few weeks, until the scenting can begin.
The natural scenting
As spring begins to drift into early summer, the jasmine season arrives in China, usually beginning around mid-May and lasting until October. At this time the green tea pearls are transported from Fujian province to Hengxian county in Guangxi province, the heart of jasmine production in China; producing up to 80% of the country’s jasmine flowers, which is 60% of jasmine flowers produced in the entire world. The jasmine plant itself has a very long history in China which allegedly dates back as far as the Han dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD) when it was said to have been introduced to the nation from south east Asia via India.
Once the jasmine season is in full swing, the traditional scenting process can begin. Pickers will have selected only the best jasmine flower buds, checking the size and ripeness with the same care that goes into picking the highest quality teas.
The green tea pearls will be spread out into a layer on bamboo mats, the freshly picked jasmine buds will be laid out on top of the tea and then carefully mixed among them, ensuring that both the tea and jasmine are not damaged in any way. The piles are left overnight, during which the jasmine buds will blossom into flowers and begin to impart their authentic essential oils and scent into the tea.
The next morning the producers will carefully remove and separate all the opened flowers from the tea and re-apply fresh jasmine buds to repeat the process. In the case of Jasmine Pearls, this will occur for up to five nights, using up to 10kg of jasmine flowers to scent 1kg of tea, for a truly wonderful and fully integrated jasmine flavour. It is a meticulous process that involves expert handling from beginning to end, but rest-assured that such great care truly shows in the cup, producing an unforgettable experience every time.