Chinese Green tea all the way from Fujian Province in China
Lower-grade Jasmine Tea is scented with an oil. The proper method - that goes back 1,600 years - uses Jasmine flowers. To be exact, it uses 3kg of Jasmine flowers per kilogram of tea.
As you are beginning to realise, it's a laborious process.
The flowers are plucked by hand in the morning. Only closed flowers can be used - if the flowers are already open, the scent will be lost.
It's harder than plucking tea - the flowers are dotted around the bushes much less evenly and much less conveniently than tea leaves on a tea bush.
Once plucked, the blossoms are taken to where the tea is laid out on the blending floor ready for scenting, and spread all over the tea leaves.
Scenting usually begins at 7pm. It's the perfect time, when the air is cooler and the plucked Jasmine flowers begin to open; like many white (night-visible) flowers, Jasmine blossom open at night. Now you can see why only the unopened flower buds were plucked.
The air in the scenting room now begins at last to fill with the intoxicating aroma of the thousands of flowers. When they were closed, the aroma was curiously muted.
Dry tea absorbs scents easily - as you will know if you've ever left your tea caddy open in the kitchen when you're cooking. The dry green (occasionally black) leaf soaks up the Jasmine scent greedily, and as it does so, a curious phenomenon occurs: it gets hot.
After a few hours, the pile of tea and flowers reaches a temperature of 40 degrees Centigrade at its core, and it must be turned by hand - a backbreaking job, even without the 30-degree heat of the scenting-room - to allow it to cool, and to ensure that all the tea leaves are equally scented.
This continues for four days with the first lot of flowers. After that, new flowers are added, and new ones again, depending upon the quality of the Jasmine Tea required. The best grades are scented 6 or 7 times.
As you can see - it's a painstaking process, repeated annually with little change for 1,600 years.
I think you'll agree with me that the result is quite different from cheaper, oiled Jasmine teas.
|Milk||Do not add milk|
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Andrew Gadsden (Saviour of Tea)
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