Jasmine tea is one of China’s most exported teas. It’s the one that fill the teapots on the tables of hungry eaters in Chinese restaurants all over the world. So why is finding our Jasmine Silver Needle and our Jasmine Pearls one of the hardest sourcing tasks Tom has every year?
It’s linked to us only considering high quality teas that have been made in the traditional style – teas that have been scented with fresh buds of jasmine and the journey that entails. The places that produce the white and green teas that pair best with jasmine are not the same as where the best jasmine buds thrive - in fact they're in different provinces. Not only is the tea subject to the usual challenges and opportunities for flavour taints to creep in that the weather and a tradition of hand production bring, but it also has to be stored for a few months - jasmine blossoms between May and October but the tea is produced in April. After storage the tea travels the hundreds of miles to Guangxi for the scenting - again lots of chances for it to spoil. On arrival in Guangxi, the tea is paired with the year's jasmine buds. These too, as a natural product are subject to the capriciousness of weather; the weather can mess up the scenting nights too- too humid and the tea will get damp and taste bitter. Jasmine teas has a longer and more complicated production journey compared to most teas, and that's what makes it hard to find good ones every year.
Finding the ones that have been guided through their journey from tea bush to scenting room successfully is a challenge we relish. The alternative after all is an indistinct tea with an oil sprayed on which might give an ok aroma, but it won’t stick around long enough to be tasted. We want refreshment and thick, syrupy textures seamlessly matched with abundant, pure sweet jasmine.
Tom’s made two short videos of finding this year’s jasmine teas – find out what he’s found: