After a week of being pummeled by a nasty rhinovirus, I return with today’s fragrant cuppa: Foodjoy Tea Company’s Jasmine Tea.
This is a loose jasmine in a cute yellow tin with a lot of Chinese writing on it, and I picked it up at the big Japanese market in Seattle’s International District. The tin has a rubber stopper inside the lid to keep things fresh.
I don’t usually like florals, but this one is a great standard green tea leaf infused with jasmine essence. It has a very fragrant and full with a sweet note to the taste. (I often add a splash of agave to bring that out.)
It has been pointed out that this probably isn’t a quality jasmine-green tea, and I’m inclined to agree based on the price alone. As far as premium jasmine is concerned, Wikipedia has a succinct explanation of how the flower is combined with the tea:
The delicate Jasmine flower opens only at night and is plucked in the morning when the tiny petals are tightly closed. They are then stored in a cool place until night. Between six and eight in the evening, as the temperature cools, the petals begin to open. Flowers and tea are “mated” in machines that control temperature and humidity. It takes four hours or so for the tea to absorb the fragrance and flavour of the Jasmine blossoms, and for the highest grades, this process may be repeated as many as seven times. Because the tea has absorbed moisture from the flowers, it must be refired to prevent spoilage. The spent flowers may or may not be removed from the final product, as the flowers are completely dry and contain no aroma. They simply add visual appeal and are no indication of the quality of the tea.
Of course, the taste of jasmine is incredibly dependent upon how you brew it. Jasmine shouldn’t be brewed with boiling water. Let the kettle sit for a few minutes to bring the temperature down. After you add the water, keep an eye on the clock. Two minutes is the maximum. If you prefer stronger tea, I suggest adding more leaves. Brewing it with boiling water or brewing for too long will give you a very bitter and undrinkable tea, and I really think that’s what spoils it for most.
I’ll confess that I got caught up in conversation while mine was brewing this morning, and I had to toss it and make a fresh pot. It really is that delicate.
With some attention to your method, you’ll have an aroma and taste that send your spirits soaring. Good for all seasons.
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If you follow what gets said about prices each year, you would end up with the impression that the average price of tea has gone up. But more specifically the price at the most sought after regions (say Lao Banzhang, Bingdao) have gone completely through the roof. A lot of this narrative is anecdotal. Tales of rich Chinese buying up all the top-end product from X area. Part of it can also be seen when someone in the Sinosphere posts the maocha prices per location. These lists come with all sorts of contextual caveats, but the trend seems real. I don’t see any red flags to really doubt this storyline, but I was curious if it’d show up by looking at some of the data of prices on production by western facing vendors.
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