Category Archives: Jasmine teas

Scented tea: White Monkey Jasmine

White Monkey Jasmine

Overwhelmingly thick, smooth and fragrant. Pralines and crème liqueurs.
Scented tea » Jasmine » Traditional, ★★★

I never expected a traditional jasmine tea to have such a heavy scent. Yet, I feel a powerful praline and crème liqueur taste in this brew.

I say “liqueur” because the vapour feel (茶气) is thick and heavy, rather like breathing in over a shot of alcohol. It’s unique to find such a deep aroma in tea.

The jasmine scent here is a rich one, not a light, floral one. The aroma closer resembles praline than flowers—again, unusual for a jasmine tea.

It’s a good-quality tea, and many people would love it. But the 茶气 is just too heavy for me to enjoy regularly. While the overly-heavy aroma dissuades me from buying White Monkey Jasmine, there are plenty of people who would select it especially for that trait. ★★★

Scented tea: Jasmine Pearls (Buddha’s Tears)

Jasmine Pearls (Buddha's Tears)

Not as good as they look.
Scented tea » Jasmine » Modern, 

Maybe I didn’t brew these right. They have very little taste.

Jasmine Pearls (Buddha’s Tears) are tight, hand-rolled ‘pearls’ that open when brewed. The ‘pearls’ looks beautiful when it’s dry (when you can see their two-tone colour—a mixture of tender buds and young leaves), and wet, when they extend their long, spindly leaves vertically in the glass.

Brew around 3 grams of this tea (that’s about 25 pearls—I weighed them) in a tall glass. Don’t obstruct the leaves (with a filter or tea infuser); just brew them directly. These leaves won’t float because they’re packed so densely—so they’ll stay away from your lips when drinking! Do not follow T2‘s directions, who recommend “4-5 pearls per cup”.

Jasmine Pearls (Buddha’s Tears) is similar to Jade Ring Jasmine in that it looks good but is uninteresting to drink. I’d prefer to drink Rolling Clouds (a green tea) or, better still, Organic China Jasmine, whose leaf isn’t rolled, but tastes better than all of the above. Maybe I care too much about taste. ★★★

Scented tea: Organic China Jasmine

Organic China Jasmine

Well-rounded. No bitterness, no perfume. Robust enough to stand hot water.
Scented tea » Jasmine » Traditional, ★★★★★

I love this tea. Organic China Jasmine reminds me of when my Mum came to visit in Beijing (that’s the last time I drank it).

This morning, I compared two jasmine teas: Jasmine Pearls (Buddha’s Tears) and Organic China Jasmine. Both were brewed in identical shot-glasses for exactly two minutes.

I think Organic China Jasmine tastes much better. The taste is softer and sweeter than that of Jasmine Pearls (Buddha’s Tears), probably because the leaves are much smaller, and it’s prepared from zaobei leaves instead of green tea leaves.

Small, tender tea leaves tend to have more flavour. They are also more nutritious and more expensive than big ones (think how baby corn is sweeter and more nutritious than full-size corn—and more expensive, too.) The small leaves in Organic China Jasmine are more tender and delicate than those of Jasmine Pearls (Buddha’s Tears), so I’m surprised that it sells for about half the price. Even though leaves of the latter are hand-rolled into beautiful ball shapes, the former is larger volumetrically when packed, which, I’m told, makes it the more presentable option as a gift. Organic China Jasmine wins all round.

True jasmine teas (such as this Organic China Jasmine) are made from zaobei, a specially-prepared leaf distinctly different from the other six types of tea (white, yellow, green, oolong, black and dark teas). Zaobei leaf is designed not only to absorb a lot of jasmine flavour, but also to withstand the high water temperatures required to release that jasmine flavour without creating bitterness in the tea. Zaobei is sometimes referred to as the ‘seventh type of tea’ for its uniqueness (see my Tea Types 2012 diagram for a graphic representation). Artificial (modern) jasmine teas, on the other hand, can sometimes taste of perfume—this one doesn’t.

I’m very pleased with this tea. It sells for $14 per 100g in Melbourne (460 RMB per 500g) and is totally worth it—for yourself or as a gift. ★★★★★

See also my review of Jasmine Pearls (Buddha’s Tears) on jameskennedybeijing.

Green tea: Jade Ring Jasmine

Jade Ring Jasmine

Tastes too weak.
Scented tea » Jasmine » Traditional,  ★★

Dry leaf Jade Ring Jasmine has no fragrance but the leaf shape intrigues me.

Brewed as described on the packaging, this tea looks like water. It has no flavour and no aroma but does carry hints of a fudge-like aftertaste.

Vendor’s brewing directions: “Place 4-5 rings into a cup. Pour over water at 80 degrees Celsius and brew for at least 7 minutes. For a pot, use 4 rings per cup.”

Four to five rings looked like too little, so I decided to brew this tea my own way, as described below:

jameskennedybeijing’s brewing directions: Place 15-20 rings into a cup. Pour over water at 80 degrees Celsius and brew gongfu style.

Brewed stronger, the broth is still almost colourless. There is a feint aroma, but it isn’t one of jasmine. The sweet aftertaste is replaced by a bizarrely burned, smoky flavour, which is interesting but not pleasant. I prefer brewing according to the vendor’s instructions.

Instead of this tea, I recommend Rolling Clouds for its leaf shape (great for gifts), and Organic China Jasmine for its flavour (great for drinking at home). Jasmine Pearl (Buddha’s Tears) has a balance of both characteristics (taste and interesting leaf shape), yet has a much higher price tag to match.

I definitely wouldn’t buy Jade Ring Jasmine. Nor would I send it as a gift. Maybe I just haven’t yet learned to brew it properly? ★★