You've seen it, you've smelt it, you may even have tasted it, but what is jasmine tea all about?
What Is Jasmine Tea?
Jasmine tea is the most popular scented tea in the world! Note, it is not a flavoured tea, those that are blended with other ingredients, but a scented tea, those that are infused with "aromatic botanicals". Very occasionally, jasmine tea will be made with oolong, however, the majority of the time, it is made with green tea. Jasmine tea was created, and remains a delicacy, in China, where green tea is extremely popular, more so than black tea. In fact, green tea is as popular in China, as black tea is in Britain!
Jasmine is thought to have been introduced to China somewhere between 2,200 and 1,800 years ago. It was then used to scent tea by around 500AD. Despite its ancient use, jasmine tea did not become popular until the 1700’s, when tea began to be exported in high capacity.
Harvest & Preparation
Jasmine is now grown in the Chinese mountains and harvested on summer days when the petals are closed. At night the flowers begin to open and they are placed on and around the tea, which was harvested in the spring, and left to infuse for hours at a time. This process can be completed a number of times, sometimes up to 7 infusions for high grade jasmine tea, and is made available in loose leaf or rolled "pearls". Jasmine tea is, of course, also available in teabags, however, the tea leaves tend to be lower quality and made with artificial flavours and sprays.
Jasmine tea is revered for its delicately sweet, yet powerful floral flavour. However, it can also range from dry with a powdery mouth feel, to tangy and mouth watering.
If you love the flavour, jasmine tea becomes a versatile tools that you should always keep stocked in your cupboard. It's great for iced teas, home made cocktails, smoothies and even cooking and baking! For advice and ideas on how to use jasmine check out my Jasmine Tea Inspiration and Jasmine Tea Smoothie Recipes.
Birt & Tang - Green Jasmine Teabags
One of the first things that's noticeable, with this particular jasmine tea, is that the green tea is actually detectable. With some jasmine tea the actual tea can be hard to find and totally dominated by the overpoweringly powdery note of jasmine. Sometimes this is ok, but other times you may just want to enjoy the succulent combination of the two. Birt & Tang provide the perfect combo, being strong (because jasmine is a hard flavour to miss), but simultaneously subtle, in comparison to other jasmine tea. Due to the delicacy and restraint of the jasmine, there was none of the astringency's towards the end of the cup, retaining the same beautiful flavour throughout. The packaging is “clean”, straight to the point, without any intricate patterns or pictures. The only thing I expressly didn’t like was that the box suggests using boiling water, something you should never do with green tea. Furthermore, the tea is obviously some kind green tea fanning and packed in thick paper bags.
Product Details: 50 teabags in a box.
Final Thoughts: Not the best quality leaves, but cheap, certified organic and actually tastes good. It's gentle, making it a great starter jasmine tea for those who are unsure.
Teapigs - Jasmine Pearls Teabags
Although enclosed in tea bags, this jasmine tea is not finely cut leaves, but fuller, high quality leaves that have been rolled into “pearls”. There are pros and cons to selling these quality pearls in teabags. Teabags are more accessible and inclusive to the average tea drinker, therefore less daunting than loose leaf, if one should fancy a change from the standard black tea. Therefore, these teabags are great for introducing newbies into the wonderful world of good quality tea. However, the teabag isn’t quite big enough to let the pearls fully unfurl and agonise without over steeping. Luckily though, you can actually buy this as loose leaf from the Teapigs website! They taste really good, with just a hint of green tea being detectable and a very strong, pungent jasmine flavour, that has an incredibly dry finish.
Product Details: Available as a pack of 15 or 50 teabags or 75g of loose leaf.
Final Thoughts: Winner of a Great Taste Award 2016. These have a super strong flavour, so are ideal for someone chasing that powerful jasmine hit, as long as they don't mind an equally dry finish.