Where's the Jasmine in My Jasmine Pearl Tea?

A question for the ages: Where's the jasmine in my Jasmine Pearl Tea?

At first, you might think that the lighter parts of the pearls are flower petals but once they unfurl, you can see that they are really shoots of tea leaves so young that some still have their "fur" on them. So then where are the flowers that make the tea smell so heavenly?

The truth is, the higher the quality of the jasmine tea, the less actual flowers you should see. Imperial Jasmine Pearls, like the ones Buckhead Tea Company offers, are of the highest quality--suitable and available, in the old days, only to the Imperial Royal family because of the time and labor required to make tea.

The making of jasmine tea is a labor intensive and delicate process. The tea is allowed to oxidize to about 20% and then is spread out onto bamboo mats. A layer of freshly picked jasmine flowers is then spread over the tea to fully cover it, and then a second layer of tea leaves is then spread on top.  This process is repeated three to four times.

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The mixture is left in a cool dry place overnight and in the morning, the flowers are then winnowed from the leaves and new flowers are added. A good jasmine tea receives this perfuming process three to four times so that the tea leaves can absorb the fragrance and moisture from the fresh flowers. When this process is finished, the tea is then rolled into small pearls and lightly roasted to dry. 

A good jasmine tea should not contain flower petals and the fragrance should be distinct but not over-powering the tea.  Usually, the smaller the pearls, the better the quality. Although this tea is only about 20% oxidized, it nevertheless is a tea that contains a moderate amount of caffeine and therefore a good morning wake-up tea or a refreshing, but soothing early afternoon tea.