Jasmine tea is a scented or flower tea that is made by adding jasmine flowers to tea leaves during the processing. The jasmine flowers add a delicate flavor to the tea making jasmine tea one of the most popular scented teas.
Jasmine tea can be based on any type of tea (black tea, green tea, or oolong tea) but is most commonly used for green tea. Jasmine tea is usually Chinese tea, but Japanese green tea may also be scented with jasmine flowers.
There are many varieties of the Jasmine plant but the kind that is used for jasmine tea is known as Jasminum sambac or Arabian Jasmine. This plant is native to India but widely cultivated in South China as well as other parts of the world. It usually grows as a shrub but can reach 9 meters in height.
Arabian Jasmine produces white flowers that only open at night. The flowers grow in clusters of 3 to 12, and have a strong scent that is immediately recognizable to anyone familiar with jasmine tea.
Processing Jasmine Tea
Since the jasmine flowers only open at night, the closed buds are collected early in the morning. They are stored in a cool environment until night fall when the buds re-open. At this point, the jasmine flowers are mixed with the processed tea leaves and left for about 4 hours in containers that control temperature and humidity.
Depending on the type of jasmine tea, this procedure may be repeated several times with fresh batches of jasmine flowers added to the tea each time. After the tea has absorbed the required amount of scent, it must be re-fired to reduce the moisture content that was introduced with the addition of the jasmine flowers.
Jasmine tea which has been processed in this manner is sold with the jasmine flowers still in the tea. This is for decorative purposes only since there is no remaining flavor in the jasmine flowers once the jasmine tea has been processed.
Another way of processing jasmine tea is to set the flowers and the tea next to each other in a closed container. The tea absorbs the scent of the tea but the finished jasmine tea does not contain jasmine flowers. The presence of jasmine flowers in the finished tea is not an indication of quality, as both processing methods are suitable for producing top-quality jasmine tea.
The scent of the jasmine flowers is sometimes used to mask inferior teas, so the name "Jasmine Tea" is no indication of the quality of the tea.
Health Benefits of Jasmine Tea
Jasmine tea may have health benefits above and beyond those of unscented tea. Studies have shown that jasmine tea is more effective in lowering cholesterol levels than regular tea, and other research revealed that fruit flies live 20% longer when jasmine tea is added to their drinking water.