Jasmine is one of several scented or flower teas, and the most well-known among those who enjoy exotic teas. Aromatic and slightly sweet, it is delicious with meals, on its own, and incorporated into desserts.
Jasmine tea is most often made with green tea but can also be made with black, white, or oolong tea and in loose leaf form as well as rolled pearls. The highest grades of jasmine tea consist of fine quality tea leaves scented with fresh jasmine blossoms. Cheaper grades may be perfumed with jasmine oil, jasmine extract, or artificial flavor. The ideal jasmine tea is clean and fragrant, sweet but not cloying.
To make jasmine tea in the traditional manner, tea makers pluck and process tea leaves in the spring and carefully store them until summer when the jasmine bushes bloom. Jasmine flowers open at night, so the buds are picked in the morning when they are fresh, kept cool, and then layered or piled with the tea leaves as they open and release their fragrance in the evening. Over the course of several hours or weeks, the tea absorbs the jasmine scent and the flowers are usually removed. Tea makers may repeat the scenting process a couple of times for everyday grade jasmine tea and up to seven or nine times for a fine tea.
Since jasmine tea can be made with various kinds of tea leaves and in different shapes, there is no single standard for water temperature or steeping time. In general, follow directions from the manufacturer or make it as you would the basic tea. Serve jasmine tea plain, without milk or sweetener. Its smooth, sweet flavor can be a nice accompaniment to savory or spicy foods.
Cooking with jasmine tea: Jasmine tea lends itself particularly well to desserts; it can be incorporated into cookies and scones, flavored cream, poached pears, and more.
Loose tea leaves can also be dropped right into your vegetable dish when cooking, just as you would dry herbs. Sprinkle in a teaspoon or two of jasmine tea leaves to add a depth of flavor to stir-fried vegetables. Jasmine tea, with its delicate floral aroma, pairs with delicate vegetables such pea shoots and broccoli that works especially well when served on a bed of jasmine rice. It can also add a touch of zing to soups and broths; vegetables simmered in a broth mixed with a little jasmine tea taste fantastic. Even good regular soups can get an aromatic makeover with the flavour of jasmine tea brew.
Jasmine tea also makes a wonderful marinade, instead of throwing out the extra Jasmine tea; use it as an effective marinade for chicken breasts or kebabs. A bite of the tender meat gives you a succulent taste with a hint of tea flavour. Another method is smoking the meat in a wok with Jasmine tea leaves. The resulting browning is beautiful, allowing you to relish the smoked fish perfumed with the scent of charred jasmine.