Why is there “no flower in jasmine tea?

Jasmine tea and chrysanthemum tea are two types of tea that favored by Chinese people. Even though, they are all called “flower tea”, these two are different from each other fundamentally: traditional jasmine tea don’t have flower inside, only teas. The aroma of jasmine will be released from the brewing process (some new process technique of the jasmine tea has kept some flower petals, just for appearance. The aroma is still coming from the tea. Some lower quality jasmine tea did not pick the flower petal out.) The chrysanthemum tea doesn’t have tea, only dried chrysanthemum. The reason they are called “flower tea” is because “tea” has two meanings: the original meaning, “tea” is the product of the fresh leaving that went through a variety of process and drying. From a broader aspect, people call any beverage that is brewed from flower, leaves fruits and others of the plants tea. The broader meaning tea is normally called “tea drinking”, “herbal tea”, “flower tea” and others.

The “tea” in jasmine tea is the original meaning of tea. The “tea” in chrysanthemum tea is the tea drinking from the broader definition.

Then, why people treats the jasmine tea the original meaning of tea, and chrysanthemum tea the flower tea, not the other way around?

This has to be explained from the property of the two flower.

Jasmine has the strong aroma. The aroma comes from the volatile organic compounds in the petal, mainly are esters, alcohols and allyl terpenoids. Scientists have conducted many research on jasmine, which has identified over 100 types of volatile molecules. These molecules that mix together will stimulate our olfactory cells, which produce the aroma of the jasmine. Different species, different growing conditions, and different times, the aroma molecules released by jasmine have different compounds and amount. Therefore, there are different types of jasmine aroma.

Before the bud fully formed, there is almost none aroma released. With the growth of the bud, the petals slightly open, they begin to release the aroma molecules. During the process of the opening of petals, various of aroma molecules will increase the amount of aroma released. Once they exhausted, the petal faded, the aroma will disappear. The whole process only lasts for ten hours.

Which means, once the jasmine blossom, it will release the aroma molecules: they are volatile and cannot be kept inside the flower. Therefore, if you make the “flower tea” from the dried jasmine, the aroma molecules will not be kept. When you brew them, they will not have the aroma of jasmine.

The only way to keep the aroma of the jasmine is to let them release and collect them before they floating away. Hundred years ago, the wisdom antecedents have invented a “scenting” process that will keep the aroma of jasmine in the tea leaves, then it will get jasmine tea. Because there are many hollow pipes and porosity in the tea leaves, the actual surface area is very large. Also, the tea leaves are very dry, the molecules on the surface of the tea leaves have strong adsorption capacity.

Another reason that why the “scenting” process can realize is because the “releasing of aroma” does not have to be conducted on the jasmine tree. Once the bud is mature and ready to blossom, they can be collected and mixed up with tea leaves. The life activities inside the jasmine bud will continue, once the petal opens, the aroma molecules will be released. By this time, jasmine has done its part in the whole process. The high qualitied jasmine tea will take the petal away. Therefore, there is no flower inside the jasmine tea. In order to increase the adsorption amount, this process is usually repeated.

Tea leaves have strong adsorption capacity. Under normal condition, especially preserved sealed and low temperature, these aroma molecules will stay in the tea quietly. Once you brew the tea, when the temperature raises, they will break the restrain and gain freedom. That’s when we smell the aroma of jasmine. The thickness of the aroma depends on two factors: one is the time and frequency of the scenting process. The more the flower used, the more frequently the process is conducted, the amount of the aroma molecules absorbed by the tea is more. The second is the quality of the tea, the softer and fresher the tea is, the larger the surface is. Therefore, the adsorption capacity is larger, the more aroma molecules are absorbed.

It is a different situation with chrysanthemum tea. The aroma of the chrysanthemum is not as attractive as that of aroma. Its characteristics are determined by the flavonoids and chlorogenicacid contained in the chrysanthemum. Research has tested that if you soak the chrysanthemum in the hot water, half of the solid substances will dissolve in the water, among which there are large quantity of flavonoids and chlorogenic acid. That’s why the chrysanthemum tea shows slightly yellow. The antioxidant feature of flavonoids is regarded as beneficial to health.

The flavonoids and chlorogenic acid is not volatile. They will be kept after the chrysanthemum is dried. They can be dissolved in the hot water. Therefore, it can be made into “flower tea”. Otherwise, if using “scenting process” with chrysanthemum tea, the flavonoid and chlorogenic acid will not get into the tea leaves. And they will not release aroma substance.