Well, I think we are all familiar with jasmine tea. Unfortunately, mostly what people experience as jasmine tea is a lower quality tea bag version available in most Chinese restaurants – and even that can be fairly pleasant although it’s not really the same drink as a good jasmine. If you never have, I encourage you to go to your local specialty tea shop and indulge in a really fine quality jasmine tea to experience the difference.
What you can see in the photo is a nice leaf jasmine. You may see some light colour but this is not flower blossoms mixed in with the tea leaves – the blossoms are carefully removed by hand after the scent is absorbed by the leaves. The leaves themselves can have a silvery bloom in good green tea. At a shop you may also find something similar but hand rolled into little balls – sometimes called dragon pearls. This type is lovely as well. When you brew it you’ll see the full size of the leaves expanded in the pot.
One word of caution though – it is very important with jasmine tea to let your boiling water cool down a bit (to about 75C or 165F) before pouring it over your leaves, otherwise you will end up scalding the leaves and creating a bitter pot of tea. With the right temperature though, this tea has the exotic flavour and flowery scent of an Asian moonlit night so it is well worth experimenting until you get it right!
image (cc) 2009 Hilary Farmer