5 Flowers Found in Tea Blends

Tea blends can have all kinds of additions. Flowers are hugely popular.

Safflower and Blue Cornflower – Common Flower Additions to Tea Blends

Flowers have been added to tea for centuries. How many of the 5 of the most common flower petals do you recognize from your favorite tea blends?

  1. Calendula – This golden yellow petal is a member of the marigold family. It has been used for centuries in food as the petals are edible. They were originally used to dye cheese and other food items a creamy yellow. It also acts as a replacement for saffron. Brewed by itself, this petal has a very leathery flavor. However, added to tea, it smooths out the astringency of drink. We use it to soften the tea flavor in our Georgia’s Peach.
  2. Cornflower – The cornflower is a member of the Asteraceae family. Commonly used as a decorating plant in flower beds, this pale to dark blue flower has been long prized for its color. The petals are edible and are easily used to dress up any food item. The color in the petals transfers out in hot water, which will affect the color of the tea brew. We love how this looks in our Shenandoah Blue.
  3. Safflower – This red or yellow flower is also a member of the Asteraceae family. This plant has been used by humans for centuries. Its seeds are where safflower oil comes from and its petals have been used for dyes. For tea, they are used to dress up the dry leaf by adding some visual interest. You won’t be missing this flower in our Cherry Blossom White.
  4. Jasmine – First used by Chinese to scent tea, this famous night blooming flower is known more for its scent than its petals. It is pale white and quite fragile, which helps to explain why the petals do not appear as often in tea blends as you might think. The other reason they don’t appear often in tea blends is that when brewed they impart an unsalted steamed green bean flavor, not the scent imparted by the pollen of the flower.
  5. Rose – This famous flower has thousands of cultivars and not all of them are safe for culinary uses. The Food & Drug Administration allows only the use of certain species in food, which are Rosa alba L., Rosa centifolia L., Rosa damascena Mill., Rosa gallica L., and varietals of these species. These beautiful petals add both scent and a slight astringency to the tea they are added to. We give them a starring role in The Rose Garden tea.

The next time you are exploring tea blends be sure to look at the ingredients and see if you recognize any of these flowers.

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Jasmine Tea – The First Nighttime Tea

Jasmine teas have been made in China since the fifth century and only began being exported to Europe in the 1600’s. They include teas like the classic Jasmine Green as well as Jasmine Dragon Tears (aka Jasmine Pearls). This hugely popular variety of tea gets its scent from Jasmine flowers, which only open at night.

Jasmine Plant

Jasmine flower for producing scented tea.

Scented tea is often produced using jasmine petals.

The two main species of Jasmine used in Jasmine tea are native to Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, as well as the eastern Himalayan region and have spread into China and across the globe because of humans. Jasmine is actually a member of the olive family. It is a vine that looses its leaves every fall. Jasmine typically blooms in the summer, not early spring when most of the best teas are picked. The flowers are white and open only in the evening when they release the oil that contains their famous scent. This beautiful plant is pollinated by moths, not bees, which are nocturnal insects. Plants that have evolved to have nocturnal pollinators are very fragrant as they use the fragrance to guide in their pollinators. It is believed that the Jasmine plant was introduced to China sometime during the Han Dynasty (200 BCE to 200 CE).

Making Jasmine Tea

Jasmine tea is traditionally made with green tea but you will also find it made with white or black tea. As mentioned earlier, Jasmine does not bloom when tea does. So the tea is picked, manufactured into its green state and then stored for 3-4 months, pending location, before being scented with jasmine. The jasmine blossoms are picked in the morning while closed and kept in a cool shaded place until evening, when it will be applied to the tea. The scenting process is rather laborious regardless of whether the tea is ultimately turned into a pearl or left in its original state of being twisted.

There are typically two methods of infusing the tea with the jasmine scent. The first method is to alternately layer the tea and the jasmine blossoms. These layers are built typically with a fine mesh cloth, almost like cheese cloth in between the layers to allow for the removal and replacement of the jasmine petals. Given the type and grade of tea that the scent is being applied to, the blossoms may be replaced multiple times before the tea is considered complete. On average, it takes about four hours for the jasmine scent to permeate the tea. However, some of the highest grade jasmines may take as long as 12 hours for the scenting application process. The tea is then sent back through the drying process to remove the moisture it absorbed from the jasmine flowers. The second method involves blending together the jasmine petals with the tea and allowing it to sit overnight in a cloth bag to allow the scent to apply. The petals are then removed by hand and the tea is generally rolled into tiny balls, or pearls. Some of those pearls may still have a jasmine petal in them that you will not see until it is brewed and the pearl opens into a full leaf.

Jasmine Tea - Scented Green Tea and Liquor

Jasmine Dragon Tears – Scented Green Tea

Enjoying Jasmine Tea

Like all green teas, Jasmine Green Tea or Jasmine Dragon Tears are best brewed at water temperatures between 170-185° Fahrenheit for 3-5 minutes. A high quality jasmine tea can be steeped at least twice before losing its fragrant nose. If you haven’t had a Jasmine tea before, it is a light refreshing tea made with considerable care.

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