The Most Fragrant Tea in History

Jasmine tea dates back to Song Dynasty China, making it not only the most popular floral-infused tea, but also the oldest. Read the full story of this intoxicating beauty.

Just like tea itself, the practice of infusing tea with aromatic flower essences comes from China. The first floral combination that Chinese tea lovers experimented with was jasmine tea, with the earliest evidence of this blend dating back to the late Song Dynasty, or around 1240. The small but potently fragrant white jasmine flower has long been popular in China, where children are taught a beloved folk song dedicated to the beautiful and pure mo li hua: “Beautiful jasmine flower / Perfumed blossoms fill the branch / Fragrant and white for everyone’s delight.”

The popularity of jasmine tea steadily took off through the centuries, and commercial production was soon in place. By the end of the 19th century jasmine tea was a major export product for China, though today other Asian countries like Taiwan and Vietnam take a share of the market as well. It also went on to inspire a multitude of other floral tea blends — our collection includes osmanthus oolong and rose Darjeeling — though jasmine tea remains an old favorite.

Today, cheap, commercial versions are scented with drops of jasmine oil or, even worse, dousings of artificial jasmine scent. True jasmine tea like ours, however, is made by layering tea leaves between swathes of whole jasmine blossoms. Because jasmine blooms at night, the flowers are gathered and prepared by day so that by the time they open at dusk, the tea leaves are ready to so soak up every bit of the luscious scent. The spent blossoms are removed and the process repeated several times to intensify the tea’s fragrance. What results is a lightly sweet and seductively aromatic infusion, with a subtle floral taste that lingers on the tongue.


Fun fact:
in Japan, you can buy jasmine tea-flavored Kit Kat bars.

 

 

Images: Main image by faungg, middle image by Laurence Simon, bottom image by insatiablemunch. Creative Commons licensing via Flickr.

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Our jasmine tea, made by infusing delicate Chinese white tea with luscious blossoms, is a union of two true loves.

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