The art of making jasmine tea

The world’s finest jasmine teas are produced in August and September in Fujian province (China). They are made using a green tea base, and as the best green teas are harvested in April, the necessary quantity is reserved at the time. The jasmine flowers on the other hand, are picked at the end of summer. Jasmine flowers open in the evening, when they release their fragrance. When this happens, they are placed in layers with the tea leaves, impregnating them with their heady scent. Throughout the night they are mixed together to ensure the leaves have absorbed as much of the fragrance as possible. When day breaks they are separated, before the jasmine flowers turn bitter.


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The incredible variety of teas in Fujian

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In China, Fujian is one of the most important tea-producing provinces. Important from a historical perspective, because the first shipments of teas bound for Europe left from its ports; important also in terms of the tea itself, because Fujian is the country’s only province that grows Oolongs and the legendary white teas, as well as green teas, black teas, smoked teas and the finest jasmine teas in the country. It’s an incredible variety.


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The jasmine flowers that scent our tea

It is difficult to imagine the amount of work that goes into making the tea we drink. To produce one kilo of a top quality jasmine tea, for example, it takes 2.5 kilos of jasmine flowers, no less. With 100 flowers, you can make just 25 grams. So no fewer than 10,000 flowers, individually picked by hand, are needed to scent a kilo of tea. And the plucking of flowers in the time-honoured tradition, which I witnessed last week in southern China, sometimes takes place in scorching temperatures.


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Scenting tea with jasmine

In China, the finest jasmine teas in the world are produced at the end of the summer. They come from Fujian province. The tea and flowers are combined at night, because the jasmine flower is special in that it waits until the evening to open and release its incredible fragrance.


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Ye Yingkai, producer of Fujian teas

Ye Yingkai, pictured beside me, is a great connoisseur of Fujian teas. His story is singular, as he started out working for the State Corporation in charge of tea exports in his province, before forming his own company. He then acquired a farm, fields, in order to produce his own tea. Parallel to that, he hunts out great Tie Guan Yin, rare Da Hong Pao, as well as extremely fine jasmine teas.

He has been working with Le Palais Des Thés for nearly 20 years, and of course he’s a great friend of mine.


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The author

François-Xavier Delmas is a passionate globetrotter. He’s been touring the world’s tea plantations for more than 20 years in search of the finest teas. As the founder of Le Palais des Thés, he believes that travelling is all about discovering world cultures. From Darjeeling to Shizuoka, from Taiwan to the Golden Triangle, he invites you to follow his trips as well as share his experiences and emotions.

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