If you’re unfamiliar with jasmine tea, you’ll want to get acquainted. The process to harvest and flavor this tea variety is as unique as its taste and well worth giving a try.
Jasmine tea is typically made from green tea (though not always) that has gone through the process of being “scented” with jasmine flowers. The combination of green tea and jasmine packs a major punch, making it a popular tea variety, especially in Beijing.
So come on a journey with me to learn all about jasmine tea, how “scenting” actually works and all the amazing benefits this particular variety of tea has. I have a feeling after reading this you’ll be grabbing a jasmine tea next time you’re at your local cafe or running to the store to brew some yourself.
What is the history of jasmine tea?
Jasmine tea originated in China over 1,000 years ago. The process was first used during the Song Dynasty and further refined and perfected during the Ming Dynasty to produce what we know and love as jasmine tea today.
The Song Dynasty brought about a cultural boom that included a fruitful economy and trade industry. At the same time, the popularity of jasmine tea was on the rise. This continued as the Ming Dynasty benefited from this ongoing prosperity, which perhaps allowed for the time and effort that was put into perfecting this in-demand good.
By the 1800s, it made its way to regions outside of China as one of the first scented teas to enter the western world. Since then its popularity hasn’t waned and is beloved all over the world today.
How is jasmine tea harvested?
The process of harvesting and flavoring jasmine tea requires a level of patience that I do not personally have. In order to add the jasmine scent to the tea leaves, jasmine buds are picked by hand at just the right time, particularly when they appear as though they will bloom that very evening. That takes some serious skill… or clairvoyance. Either way, it’s pretty incredible!
Once the buds are collected they are stored in a “scenting house” where they are placed alternatively between tea leaves. The real magic happens at night when the cooler air opens those buds up and they impart their scent into the tea leaves.
But to achieve the highest quality of jasmine tea, harvesters won’t just stop there. They may actually repeat the process up to seven times to get the desired final result.
What are the benefits of drinking jasmine tea?
There are numerous benefits to drinking jasmine tea, due to both the green tea it is typically made from and the jasmine flower itself, including:
- Better gut health thanks to natural prebiotics from the tea’s polyphenols
- Improved blood pressure and cholesterol levels from the tea’s catechins, which reduce bad cholesterol
- Healthier hair and scalp, as studies on green tea have shown
- Younger-looking skin due to the tea’s polyphenols, which research has shown can combat free radicals, which contribute to aging skin
- Better sleep as a result of the relaxing effect the scent of jasmine can have
And the list doesn’t stop there. Jasmine tea also has anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants galore, and neurological impacts that can benefit mental health just as much as physical health.
What does jasmine tea taste like?
It can be really difficult to describe what something tastes like in writing, but jasmine tea can be best described as having a sweet and floral taste. Depending on the quality and how many times the tea went through the scenting process, it can have a light floral flavor or a much stronger, jasmine-forward taste.
Most jasmine teas will be made with green tea, though you can occasionally find it made with white or black tea as well. This will affect the taste, but the jasmine flavor should still shine through, regardless of what kind of tea it was made with.
And even though jasmine tea does have a calming effect that can improve sleep, it does contain caffeine, so you’ll need to be strategic about when you drink it, especially if you are sensitive to caffeine. If it is made with green tea, it will likely have a moderate amount of caffeine, while white tea would have lower caffeine levels and black tea would be higher.
There are actually a number of things that can impact tea’s caffeine levels–some of which you have control over. If you want to geek out about tea and caffeine a bit, read this guide to learn how things like harvesting, water temperature, steep time, and more can affect caffeine levels in your next brew.
How to brew jasmine tea
There is definitely a right and wrong way to brew jasmine tea, as the way it is brewed can greatly impact the taste, and therefore, your enjoyment, of this delightful beverage. You’ll want to use filtered water that has been simmered when steeping jasmine tea. This means the water should be around 190 degrees Fahrenheit or 90 degrees Celsius and not anywhere near boiling. There’s no need to steep beyond three minutes, as this will result in a bitter taste.
Where to find jasmine tea
Due to its popularity, jasmine tea should not be hard to find. Your local grocery store should have it in stock, but if you don’t have any luck there, you should be able to find it in the aisles of a big box retailer. If you can wait a few days, you can order it online from large retailers or find specialty tea shops that carry higher-quality versions of all kinds of tea.
It also doesn’t hurt to explore your neighborhood for a local cafe or tea shop that sells tea you can brew at home. No matter what, you should be able to find this tea varietal without much effort.
There’s a reason jasmine tea is one of the most popular scented teas that has spanned the globe and stood the test of time. It’s worth trying for its taste alone, but when you add the myriad benefits this tea variety has to offer, there’s no excuse not to give it a try. You never know, you could end up finding your new favorite beverage in the process!