Jasmine Tea Buyer's Guide
Which Is The Best Scented Tea?

As the most popular type of Chinese scented tea, jasmine tea has mesmerized tea drinkers for ages. How do you choose one? Why a jasmine pearl tea may not always be your best choice.

Whoever first discovered the secret of making scented tea must have laughed at how easy this actually is.

The basic principle is simple. Tea leaves absorb smell, and flowers emit them. Why not put the tea leaves side by side with the flowers, and let the leaves become scented?

When the scenting process is complete, remove the flowers and oven-dry the tea leaves. There you are - a jasmine scented tea!

What Is It?

So, a jasmine tea is any tea that has been scented using jasmine flowers. This means the tea comes in a staggering number of varieties. Green tea, white tea, oolong tea, pu-erh tea - you name it, it exists.

However, this doesn't mean that jasmine scent is compatible with all types of tea. It is most compatible with green tea, followed by oolong tea, then black tea.

The principles of compatibility are important in Chinese scented tea. Here are some popular match-ups:

  • Green Tea and Jasmine

  • Oolong Tea and Osmanthus

  • Black Tea and Rose

Only oven-baked or Honggan green tea can be scented. Steamed or roasted green teas do not make nice jasmine scented tea.

How to Make It

What does the process of making a high grade tea involve?

Moisture Control

Aromatic oils are transported from flowers to tea leaves through vapor exchange.

Dry tea leaves absorb scented vapor more easily. When making jasmine tea, the leaves are oven-baked repeatedly to reduce moisture, to facilitate this exchange of vapor.

Jasmine Flower

There are three types of jasmine flowers: single-petalled, double-petalled and multi-petalled. According to research published by Fuzhou Tea Factory, the first two types of jasmine flowers make the highest quality tea.

Multiple Infusions

The more flowers you use, the greater the scent. However, if a large amount of flowers is used, the tea will not able to absorb all the scent at once. The process needs to be batched, with some high grades baked as many as nine times.

Which to Buy?

Jasmine Pearl is the most popular type of jasmine tea. It is inexpensive. Because the leaves have been rolled into tight little balls, it stays fresh easily.

However, if you are looking for a distinct level of quality, a Jasmine Needle tea will be preferable. They are often called Baihao (White Hair) or Yinhao (Silver Hair).

There are two reasons why.

First, needle-shaped tea is made from young tea buds. Since the catechin content of tea decreases with age, these young buds contain more antioxidants and taste richer than more mature ones.

In contrast, Jasmine Pearl tends to contain more mature tea buds, which taste astringent and less rounded.

Second, the scenting process works best when there is a larger surface area. Needle tea is smaller and more porous. Pearl tea has larger leaves that have been rolled into balls, so they are more difficult to scent.

Now, this doesn't mean all Jasmine Pearls are low quality. It is just that you are more likely to chance upon a high quality Jasmine Needle.

How to Taste?

In China, the best jasmine scent is described as Xian Ling, which can be translated as fresh and nimble i.e. you can feel the jasmine scent instantaneously without any repeated effort.

The scent also has to be durable, i.e. it should last multiple infusions.

After steeping, the tea liquor should appear bright yellowish-green, with luster.

And one final tip, the best jasmine tea can be surprisingly affordable! Check out this Golden Needle King, which passes all the above tests brilliantly.

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