“Jasmine tea” is known for its elegant and gentle fragrance. Do you know how they flavor it? There are several processes to flavor it. Time and effort are spent. Jasmine tea is one of the teas called “flowering teas.” There are many other “flowering teas.” Let us take a look at various kinds of flowering teas and how tea leaves are flavored.
Features of flowering tea process
“Flowering tea” is a white tea (bai cha), blue tea (qing cha/oolong tea), green tea, or other tea flavored with flowers and fruits. Some are flavored by mixing raw flowers into tea leaves as with jasmine tea. Others are flavored by mixing dried petals into tea leaves as with osmanthus tea. Rose tea is brewed only with dried flowers, not using tea leaves.
From picking fresh leaves to shipment
In the case of jasmine tea, the plucked fresh leaves are processed to Aracha (crude tea) and then scented with alternatively layered flowers. Once flavoring has been done, flowers are removed and the packaged products are shipped.
How to make Aracha
It is common to use green tea, but in China white tea and blue tea are also used as follows.
Flowering tea is generally green-tea-based. Green tea has the property of “absorbing scents” and fits to make flowering tea more than other types of tea. In China, however, besides green tea, white tea and blue tea are also used for some types and brands.
1. Flavoring (In the case of jasmine tea)
Let us see the example of jasmine tea for the flavoring process.
You can add a scent only by directly mixing flowers with tea leaves. However, jasmine tea is valued higher when the leaves are flavored for a longer time. It may take several months to make a high-grade product.
Unopened jasmine flowers are chosen and hand-plucked one by one. The plucked buds are arranged and laid at a well-ventilated place until they open a little. Then, the buds are sieved to sort out only opening flowers. It is because opening flowers are giving out the strongest scent and suited for flavoring.
After sorting, the flowers and the tea leaves are placed alternatively in several layers to let the flower’s fragrance permeate the leaves.
During the flavoring process, the fragrance permeates the leaves with the flower moisture. It is important to keep a proper amount of moisture in this process.
The plucked flowers keep breathing, which generates respiration heat. The increasing heat withers the flowers and spoils the fragrance. To release the heat, the pile needs to be put down once. After the temperature decreases, the flowers are mixed into the tea leaves to uniform the fragrance.
The withered flowers and the tea leaves are separated through the siever. The tea leaves contain the moisture from the flowers now and need to be dried a little to stabilize the quality. The key is to dry slowly so that the flower scent is not blown off. The withered flowers are replaced by fresh ones. The processes from layering to separation are repeated. The number of repetition is generally three times, but a higher-grade product will require more.
Lastly, a small amount of fresh flowers are added and the packaged products are shipped. In fact, a higher–grade product is finished with fewer flowers. You can assume a product with a lot of flowers is low-graded.
About Jasmine tea and Flowering tea
Jasmine tea became the most popular because it was considered best-suited for flowering tea with its strong scent and good durability. It accounts for 80% of the production of flowering tea and still enjoys great popularity as a beloved flowering tea. Flowering tea was originally meant to entertain us with its fragrance, but some types of flowering tea plays the role of herbal medicines. In Japan, its health benefits are gaining publicity and various flowering teas are becoming available besides jasmine tea. In addition, an eye-pleasing type of “flowering tea” called “art tea” is coming on the scene. You can enjoy “flowering tea” in various ways. Many “flowering teas” are easy to drink. Why not find your favorite ones?