* The quality of the leaves varies. By definition, the best leaves taste best on their own, so it's never the highest grade, the best leaves that are taken to make scented leaves. With scented tea, it's not so much about the tea than it is about the scent (of the flowers). Nevertheless, there are big differences if the material used is stems or spring green tea buds.
The cheapest way to make scented tea, though, is with the addition of artificial flavors and this has caused the decline of the jasmine flower plantations.
|Small jasmine bud on the left vs. gardenia (cape-jasmine) on the right|
|'Imperial' Jasmine tea|
The leaves are green tea buds and small leaves harvested this spring (2014) in SanHsia (Taiwan). You may notice that the color of the leaves and the brew isn't very green, but almost golden/orange.
Why? This is a jasmine tea that was scented 10 times! And it looks less green than the 'premium' version that was scented 6 times! The harvested flowers are fresh and contain a lot of moisture. When they are in contact with the tea leaves, this moisture and the high temperature of the Taiwan's summer nights produce some oxidation for the tea. That's why it's necessary to dry the tea leaves after each scenting, in order to get rid of this moisture. That's why the brew isn't light green, but turns golden.
|Spent leaves turn green again. Oxidation was superficial|
But what about the taste? If you are used to drinking Oolong or puerh, there are good chances you will overbrew this tea and find it astringent. The reason for this is that the underlying leaves are originally green and many were cut to increase their absorption of scents. However, these cuts are why tannins are released faster in the brew. (That's also why hand harvested Oolong tastes sweeter than machine harvested Oolong).
Thus, we have to treat this tea as a very delicate green tea. To brew it well, use few leaves and don't let the leaves steep too long. Or don't use water that is too close to boiling. However, you can use the leaves several times because they contain a lot of fragrances.