June is the beginning of the jasmine flower season. Therefore, it feels like the appropriate time to talk about Jasmine Dragon Pearls Tea.
First, the tea leaves themselves are picked. These leaves need to be picked in the early spring, but then are dried, and stored until summer, when the jasmine flowers are ready. The jasmine flowers themselves are picked in the morning, when they are still tightly closed. In the evening, the tea leaves are piled onto the flowers. Then, when these night-blooming flowers open, they release their scent into the tea. This process takes roughly four hours. It also takes ten pounds of jasmine flowers to scent a single pound of tea, which is one of the many reasons why this tea costs a little more than some of our others.
After being infused with the scent of the jasmine, the tea needs to be re-dried, because it has likely been dampened by the flowers. This process is conducted between two and ten times, and then the leaves are rolled, by hand, into the small pearls which give this tea it’s name.
Jasmine tea has been made in this manner as a luxury beverage for roughly 1,000 years. In the early 1900’s, the West became aware of it, and demand rose so high that jasmine plants were potted, and brought indoors, in order to protect them from the cold, and thereby extend their growing season.
When steeped, each pearl unfurls into a full two leaves and a bud. The small, young leaves are the most desirable on the tea plant. Because of their quality, they can be re-steeped four or five times without becoming bitter or watery. This means that you can drink the first full, strong cup of this tea in the morning, leave your steeper full of its leaves, and come back later in the morning for a refresh. In the afternoon, if you’d like another cup of tea, these leaves still have another cup of tea or two to offer. And if you’d like another cup before bed, there should be another paler, less-caffeinated steep left.
This tea has a very subtle flavor. The long infusion practice means that the jasmine flavor is strong and prevalent, but jasmine itself is not an overpowering flower. Instead, it adds a light, floral note to this green tea, resulting in a tea which pairs well with sunny, summer mornings.