Good Jasmine Pearls (AKA Jasmine Dragon Pearls or Mo Li Long Zhu in Mandarin) are hard to find. Their production involves many stages of hand-processing. Don’t be fooled into thinking that any tea labelled ‘Jasmine Pearls‘ are good – the name in itself doesn’t denote quality. It almost guarantees a hand-rolled tea but says nothing about the quality of the tea material, workmanship, quality of the scenting process or the flowers which are used.
First and foremost, great Jasmine Pearls depend on an expert team of people. Skilled and experienced growers, pickers, and rollers of the tea into small balls or ‘pearls.’ Tea production is so complex and difficult. The weather can be bad and damage the quality of the leaves, the picking can have faults as can the quality and time taken over withering, firing, rolling, and drying. Mistakes at any stage can be picked up in the taste of the tea. This is what makes great land and great people so precious. All our customers who buy our teas are actually supporting this tradition of expertise and quality and the livelihoods of the people we buy from.
So this is how the green tea pearls, to be later scented with jasmine, are made. First, we select the raw leaf which for us has to be composed mainly of buds (tips) and a smaller number of top leaves. I select tea at the optimum time of year, early spring, even though the scenting doesn’t take place until July or August. The type of tea tree which is used is Fuan Da Hao although Fuding Da Bai and others can also be used. The buds provide a thick body and sweetness, the top leaves provide flavour. First the tea is picked, withered and fired.Then, the moist tea buds are hand rolled into individual pearls. each pearl is twisted into paper making up a ‘string of pearls’. The paper maintains the shape of the pearl.
We will be posting a video of this process soon. When you see experienced masters making these pearls you are shocked at how simple they make it look. They pick up a few buds, roll them together between their fingers then twist them into the paper.
After wrapping the pearls in paper, they are left for a day to ‘set’ into their shape. Afterwhich the paper is removed through a quick untwist and they are put into a drier at 80 degrees.So, all this and they have not even been scented yet. I will take some photos and video of the scenting process when I am back in China in July. Unfortunately I won’t be able to capture the unbeleiveable jasmine aromas on film but it is captured in the taste of the Jasmine Pearls.