Scenting tea with fresh flowers
Scenting tea with fresh flowers
Scenting tea at home is easy and fun, specially when you have a garden and have access to all kind of flowers.
The idea is inspired by the process of scenting jasmine tea (using Jasminum sambac), the original Chinese text can be found on Baidu.com. My method is certainly not for big scale, commercially jasmine flower and tea leaf are piled up to knee high and would generate a lot bio heat (over 40 Celsius). Scenting process at home in small amount does not need to concern about the bio-heat, more importantly is controlling the time and humidity.
The reason I am using Cape Jasmine is because I have easy access to it in my garden. An advantage using Cape Jasmine Gardenia jasminoides over Jasminum sambac is the Cape Jasmine's scent last longer during the scenting process. Other flowers can also be used to scent your tea as long as the flowers are not toxic.
Preparation: I have chosen Mao Jian (green tea) as the base for the scenting process. Heat the tea gently, less then 80 Celsius degrees with an oven or a pan in 30-45 minute to force out any foreign smell and moisture. Just don't burn the tea!
Step#1 Collect flowers from your garden or somewhere without pollution. I find Cape Jasmine is most fragrance at night, so I collected them at night. It is very important to not collect the flower after the rain. The moisture from the rain will dilute the aromatic oil in the petals.
Step#2 Don't wash the flower (don't want excessive moisture), clean the flowers from bad looking petals, foreign objects and bugs.
Step#3 Use a box to contain the flowers and the tea leaf. I suggest 4 flowers per 50g in the first two round of scenting. Layering the flowers on the bottom of the box and with tea leaf on the top, then seal it. After about 10 hours of scenting, mix the tea leafs and the flowers evenly in the box.
Step#4 Scent the tea in total 18-24 hours in rooms temperature and then separate the flowers from the tea. The flowers should have withered and have very little fragrance left. The tea leafs now should have absorb the fragrance and the moisture from the flowers. It is important to not leave the flowers too long, otherwise it would leave a off odor.
Step#5 I find this step most difficult and crucial. The purpose in this step is to dry the tea with heat, but on the sometime not letting the fragrance evaporate. According to my own experience, when pan/plate is too hot for you to touch then it is probably too hot for the tea. The whole dried process should be done less then 30 min.
Step#6 Repeat the scenting and drying process until the tea have desired strength of fragrance. You can scent the tea up to 7 times. The last scenting rounds can be scented with less flowers.
Importantly is the first and second round of scenting, you need to saturate the tea leafs with full strength of fragrance, then gradually reduce the amount of fresh flower after each round of scenting in order to minimize the evaporation of fragrance. Less flower->less moisture->shorter drying time->less evaporation fragrance.
Step#7 When you are satisfied with the strength of fragrance, you need to make sure the tea is dry enough before you pack the tea. Test the tea leaf by crushing it between two fingers, if the tea leaf is brittle enough to break then it is dry. If the tea leaf is bending then it is too wet and needs more drying.
Pack the tea in an air tight container and keep it in a cold place. After days of work, finally you can enjoy your own home made scented tea! enjoy!
Note: Although my first and seconder round of drying was done too hot, after 5+ scenting round my final result is still very satisfying. The strength of fragrance is purer, sweeter and not as pungent as normal jasmine tea. Somehow the green tea tasted lighter then before scenting.
I hope this article does give you some ideas. Keep experimenting and enjoy the creative process. If you come up with a recipe for scenting tea with fresh flower, please share with us!
Don't forget to tell me how thing work for you by using comment below.