Jasmine Dragon Pearls are a classic: green tea leaves scented with jasmine flowers and rolled into small balls the size of pearls. At many of our farmers markets, I often over hear people confuse this beauty with the tea that unrolls into a flower. At that point I admit to ease dropping and take the opportunity to explain that what they are talking about are display teas and not Jasmine Dragon Pearls. While it’s true that these go through a similar process during steeping often referred to as the “agony of the leaf” (where the leaves slowly unfurl in water) display teas are often a lessor grade green tea where leaves are sown together with a flower that seems to pop-up or grow as it steeps. Jasmine Dragon Pearls are actually individually rolled leaves that open gently during steeping.
Leaves are harvested in the early spring and stored until summer; waiting for fresh jasmine flowers to come to full bloom sometime around late July. These Jasmine flowers are gently gathered very early in the day when the petals are closed and kept in a cool place until evening when hot summer days wane. That’s when the magic happens. After the jasmine buds relax, they gently open to release their distinct aroma which the tea leaves absorb. This is often done in 1 of 2 ways: alternating the flowers with the tea leaves (like a lasagna), the other is to just blend the flowers in with the tea leaves. It takes many hours for the tea leaves to absorb the fragrance from the blossoms and is usually repeated many times (as much as 6 or 7 in higher grades.) The tea leaves are then dried again to remove any moisture it took on during the scenting process.
The next step is truly amazing.
Each one of those scented leaves are then hand-rolled into a little “pearl.” Each and every individual leaf. And… there’s a person (an actual human being) who sits all day long at a table and rolls each tea leaf into a that little round ball. The first time I saw how this was done I was humbled and it’s why I am so diligent not to waste ANY tea leaf, but especially a Jasmine Dragon Pearl. Someone spends their entire day sitting at a table rolling 1 leaf at a time, so that we can enjoy a gorgeous cup of green tea. Something to remember as we reach for a cup of tea to sooth our less then perfect day: it’s because someone else made it possible. Watch this video made by our friends at QTrade to see the hand rolling of the leaf. In the meantime, here are some notes on this blend:
• Overview: A classic, jasmine scented Chinese green tea from Fujian Province.
• Dry Leaf: Plump round balls
• Liquor (liquid): Brownish yellow-green
• Aroma: Floral and green
• Flavor notes: Immediate jasmine floral notes. Green tea is almost secondary at first and then marries on the palate. Faint hint of smoke at the end. If steeped too long, this tea can become astringent and bitter.
• Brewing recommendation: 175° Fº / 2 minutes. (Steep multiple times)
• Caffeine: Yes
-The Chief Leaf