Scented Teas Versus Naturally Fragrant Teas

The leaves of the tea plant (Camellia Sinensis or one of its varietals) are full of natural fragrances and flavors. However, during the 5,000+ years that mankind has been enjoying tea, things have happened that have led to adding other scents and flavors to teas. The best known and one that has been around about the longest is Jasmine tea. Another is Earl Grey scented with oil of bergamot (a type of citrus fruit from Italy). Over the years, such scented and/or flavored teas have supplanted the ability to appreciate the naturally fragrant teas.

Jasmine Pearls

Scented teas have been pleasing the palates and noses of tea drinkers since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), with jasmine, osmanthus, rose, and lychee the most popular. The tea bases were usually white, green, oolong, or black teas as a base. (One legend says it was a way to use the lesser quality teas.) Scented teas (huacha) aren’t the same as flavored teas or blended teas. In scented teas, the scent is the key and so the most common flavoring ingredient is flower petals. In flavored teas, items with special flavors are the key. And blends are usually all tea leaves grown in various areas and mixed together to combine their various characteristics. (And huacha has actually 3 meanings — a scented tea, a blooming tea, and a floral infusion.) The scents can be a bit strong and are best when served with strong-tasting foods. The Chinese often serve Jasmine-scented teas with Dim Sum, for example. You will most likely not taste the tea itself since the scents are often quite pronounced.

Some Scented Teas:

Jasmine Pearls (from the Fuzhou region of Fujian province) is a great example of a premium scented tea. Green tea leaves scented with Jasmine blossoms and hand rolled into ball shapes. Twenty pyramid sachets come in a tin. Multiple infusions are possible with the same tea sachet. Therefore output is about 120 cups per tin. This could be about 5-6 infusions if brewed by the cup or two infusions for a 3 cup pot if brewing by the pot. You will have to slightly lengthen the infusion times for subsequent infusions.

Lychee Black Tea is another historic scented tea. Lychee Black Tea is made from Black Tea which has been scented with lychee peels. Lychee or lichee is a sweet tropical fruit that is popular in Asia. When preparing and drinking this tea, one is instantly amazed with its strong pleasantly sweet fruity aroma. When brewed, the tea has a reddish brown hue and a light, sweet honey-like taste. The water used to steep this tea should be at the boiling point, 212°F (100°C). Use about 2 teaspoons (3 grams) of tea leaves for about every 5 ounces (150 milliliters) of water. A steeping time of about 3-5 minutes with more or less time is recommended depending on the desired concentration.

Compared to Naturally Fragrant Teas:

2011 Spring Imperial Mt Wudong Song Variety Mi Lan Xiang (Honey Orchid) Phoenix Dancong Oolong is a great example of a tea with a natural fragrance. It is one of a group of teas known for their honey aroma. That aroma occurs as part of the chemistry of the leaves, how they are grown, and how they are processed. And if you prefer that floral aroma, try 2011 Spring Imperial Mt. Wudong Song Vareity Huang Zhi Xiang (Gardenia) Phoenix Dan Cong Oolong is a great member of the gardenia aroma group of teas, or try 2011 Spring Premium Mt. Wudong Yu Lan Xiang (Magnolia) Phoenix Dancong Oolong which is a member of the orchid aroma group. Lots of other examples abound.

You may want to rethink teas where scents and flavorings have been added and seek out some of the natural scents and flavors that come through from the tea leaves themselves.

Time to go exploring!

About Janice and Stephen Shelton

Purveyors of Premium Teas
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