As the delights of summer descend upon the tea provinces of China, a very special and fulfilling journey commences amongst the vast fields and plantations scattered across the landscape. Although almost every tea story contains romanticised tales of origins and ancient processing methods, none are quite as unique as Jasmine Tea’s rise to worldwide fame, continue reading to learn about the history and how Jasmine Tea is made.
History of Jasmine Tea
For over a thousand years, this delicately fragrant and fresh brew has been associated with ancient Chinese history and culture, with its early beginnings largely considered to be reserved for the sole consumption of Royalty. Despite this, its true origins can be dated back even further to ancient Persia, (modern day Iran,) where the plant first grew and was later imported to China. Records imply that Jasmine Tea was first created during the South-Song Dynasty (1127-1279,) but it is not until China’s Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) that the tea’s popularity would explode across the country.
Many historians believe this sudden surge in Jasmine Tea consumption during this period could be associated with the Ming Dynasty’s passion for anything floral. The surviving relics of the time showcase intricate floral patterns and references in everything from porcelain, paintings, embroidery, décor and literature. Perhaps it is not surprising that beautiful blossoms such as chrysanthemum, osmanthus, orchid and jasmine also made their way into food and tea as well! Today, the deciduous, vine-like plant is widely cultivated in countries across Asia, Europe and the Americas, but none quite match that of China, with its long and illustrious past.
So, what makes China’s jasmine infusion with tea so famous? For starters, the jasmine blossom can be mixed with many types of tea, including green tea, black, white and oolong – but it is without a doubt that Jasmine Green Tea is the most sought-after variety of them all. Perhaps more importantly however, it is through Jasmine Tea’s laborious yet rewarding processing method that this unique brew has accumulated the most respect.
How Jasmine Tea is Made
In the early afternoons of June, July and August, experienced and dutiful labourers carefully hand-pluck the jasmine buds when the sun is out and the dew is evaporated. The pickers are very explicit as to which buds are brought back for the next stage to ensure each one is due to bloom that same evening. After harvesting thousands of jasmine buds in this intricate and complex selection process, the flowers are stored in a dry place until evening, when the blossoms open in the cool night air, releasing their signature scent. It is then that the jasmine blossoms are placed into basket trays and layered over tea leaves during what is known as the scenting process. After some hours, the tea leaves underneath will absorb the fragrance and distinctive flavour of the jasmine, with some higher-grade teas requiring this process to be repeated to ensure the effectiveness of the scenting.
In a world of rising commercial demand, other methods of processing in large quantities have sometimes meant this ancient practice has had to be side-lined, but perhaps it is due to the care and determination first shown in its production that Jasmine Tea has managed to maintain its popularity.
Health benefits of Jasmine Tea
Alongside this, scientific research has uncovered the outstanding health benefits of Jasmine Tea. Depending on whether you drink our Jasmine Tea with Flowers, or our popular Earl Grey Black Tea and Jasmine Green Tea, White or Oolong Jasmine Tea's, the benefits can vary greatly, but it is with Jasmine Green Tea the effects are best established. This includes stronger immune systems and digestive systems, a reduced risk of heart attacks and diabetes, a lower cholesterol and aids weight loss.
Further to this, jasmine tea consumption is also a fantastic stress reliever, with the olfactory system often overlooked during scientific studies on tea. One particular study that actually explored this established that the odour of jasmine can be very beneficial to those who have a natural predilection for the scent. Many test subjects who smelt the jasmine tea had a parasympathetic response to the odour, and their body released chemicals that allow them to naturally relax or improve their mood. So, next time you have had a bad today, consider brewing yourself a nice cup of Jasmine tea and feel the stress simply slip away!