Our company name is a bit of inside humor and combines our initials: JAS. We tend to pronounce it like the word “jazz,” so it only seems natural to start incorporating that theme into our store. And if we’re going in that direction, we might as well jazz up our line-up of teas with some special selections. So we did!
Some of the selections (click on any thumbnail below to open the slideshow, press Esc to exit the slideshow):
While we are still devoted to bringing the best of the fine teas created out there by tea masters who have dedicated their lives to their craft, we also acknowledge that teas with various scents and flavors added to them have been around almost as long as mankind has been infusing and enjoying tea. So why leave them out here? No reason at all. And various herbals have been enjoyed during all those centuries, too, so time to include them, also.
A Couple of Classics
Jasmine tea is a prime example of a classic flavored tea (technically what the tea experts call a “scented” tea). We have carried this tea on our store site since we started it. This tea style has been around a long while, starting some time during the Song Dynasty in China (960-1279), and is still prized today, being made in several forms:
- Pearls (full leaves hand-rolled into little pearl shapes), also called “tears”
- Needles (full leaves processed into long, thin shapes)
- Blooming (full leaves and often flower petals sewn together in a “bud” that opens up as it steeps like a flower blooming)
- Full leaf (often this is the two-leaves-and-a-bud picking from the very end of the tea bush branches)
- Broken leaf (leaves from further down on the branch or that have been machine harvested and processed either by hand or machine and possibly further broken)
- Fannings (machine processed tea leaves ground to smaller pieces but larger than dust)
- Dust (machine processed tea leaves ground down really fine for easier bagging and/or steeping and usually flavored with jasmine oil instead of real blooms)
- Compressed shapes such as hearts
The best grade is supposed to be from the Fujian province, but versions are also available from Guangdong, Guangxi, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, and Zhejiang provinces in China. Tea leaves are harvested in Spring and stored until the jasmine flowers are in bloom in early Summer. The flowers are then picked when the petals are tightly closed (usually in the early morning) and kept cool until night when they begin to open. It is at this time that the tea leaves and those little white flowers are combined and stored overnight while the tea gets infused with the scent of the blooms, a four-hour process that may get repeated as many as seven times. Store in an airtight container and away from your other teas or they may become scented, too!
A new addition to our line-up is equally classic: Moroccan Mint. Various versions are now showing up on the market, but the classic version is made from Gunpowder green tea from China and fresh, whole spearmint leaves. It can be infused at least twice and sometimes three times. That is the one we prefer. You may find it needs a bit of honey, sugar, or other sweetener.
Masala chais (spiced teas from India) are definitely classics with a number of varieties on the market. These teas are usually served hot with lots of milk and sugar, but some are mild enough to enjoy straight. We have selected several that are true to the long-standing tradition in India where this style of tea is served on the streets by chawallahs.
Several combinations are becoming the new classics of our modern tea drinking age. One is Cherry Blossom Festival Delight – a combination of whole leaf green tea, cherry flavoring, and rose petals. The same tea leaves/flavorings can be re-infused at least once.
Of course, seasonal favorites have their appeal. Traditional flavors such as hazelnut, pumpkin, peppermint, vanilla, apple, cranberry, cinnamon, and orange peel are popular this time of year. So we have selected teas that have these flavors as part of their tea appeal. We even through in a few with low or no caffeine. However, other combinations called out, too, such as Jasmine combined with Ginger, Chinese green tea, and Ceylon black tea for a total twist.
But a real treat is the Zhen Mei (“Precious Eyebrow”) with ginseng root, long used in Chinese medicines and said to have various beneficial properties, and lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora), which is a citrus-fragranced spice from the coastal regions of Australia. We found the overall flavor to be soothing, and the tea infused three times.
And some herbal chais (using the word “chai,” which means “tea,” more loosely here to mean a steeped or infused beverage) are joining in, too. Rooibos and chamomile are two popular ones, but various plants and spices are in the mix. Some are meant to put you into certain moods, such as calming, and others are said to have beneficial effects, which we will leave for you to discuss with your doctor.
The Base Tea Matters
We looked first at that base tea, then at the overall appeal in making our selections and hope you will find them as jazzed up and celebratory as we did. A surprising number start with teas that we consider to be of better quality than the standards. We’re quite jazzed!