Name: Jasmine Petal Tea
Type: Green Tea
Purveyor: Two Leaves Tea Co.
Preparation: One tea bag steeped in about eight ounces of 180-degree water for 3:00 (as recommended), sipped plain
It is hardly a secret that tea is an absorbent product. It absorbs moisture, of course, but more perniciously, it absorbs scents, aromas, flavors, and just about any other such compound, making careful storage of dry leaves an indispensable task for tea drinkers. Anyone who has ever, from a cavalier attitude or simple laziness, just tossed an unsecured bag of tea into the cabinet or (even worse) the 'fridge, knows precisely of what I speak.
Of course, it is not all a bad thing. The good Mr. Richard Rosenfeld, founder and CEO of Two Leaves Tea Co. (formerly Two Leaves and a Bud), is said to take tea that he finds sub-par for drinking, and use it in place of baking soda as an odor absorber in his refrigerator. It works quite the same.
Another, perhaps more appreciable way to put tea's absorbent qualities to good use is to produce scented tea. This nifty category of flavored teas is produced by drying tea leaves among whatever is is that we want the tea to taste like, and letting the scents and flavors get absorbed. Then the tea leaves - and only the tea leaves, not the scent-producers - are gathered and sold.
Scented teas are hardly rare, and comprise a tradition many centuries old going back to China, but all too often these days tea is flavored by throwing it together with other objects and packaging them all together. The flavors become overpowering, the tasting notes and health benefits of the tea become diluted, and even calling the product "tea" becomes rather more a convention of convenience than one of precision, as actual tea may comprise a rather small percentage of what gets brewed.
With scented tea, on the other hand, the flavors are discrete, balanced, in harmony with the tea instead of clashing against it. Two Leaves Tea has done a keen job with Jasmine Petal of scenting green tea with jasmine. By no means should my kind readership just take my word for it: trust some experts. This tea has brought to Two Leaves Tea first place prize at the 2012 North American Tea Championship in the Jasmine Scented Green Tea category of the Packaged Single-Service class (a new class in the competition). Very nice!
The tea brews into a strong, yellow beverage - not fluorescent, but not pale or translucent, either; just a deep, rich hue of yellow. In the aroma, jasmine opens like a lotus as it ascends into the nose. There are slight - very slight - fruity notes as well. The aroma is rich, but discreet. Also, smooth.
Most people who have tasted jasmine are familiar with its occasional tendency towards astringency, but this jasmine here, on the contrary, is quite sweet. Some malt underlies the flavor, but comes off more as a textural note than as a tasting note. As the sips go on, the green tea's own notes come out from the woodwork: leafy, sweet, slightly tannic. But the jasmine maintains the spotlight, right through to the finish. Conveniently for this flavor combination, the tea is medium-bodied and very smooth, even silky.
The flavors really do blend well together. The green tea notes make for an excellent platform on which the jasmine sits high - elegant; solid yet supple; strong yet gentle.
The Jasmine Petal tea works for breakfast inasmuch as it is caffeinated, but it would be most ideally suited for the afternoon. The rich flavors and easy smoothness make for an excellent vessel by which to return oneself to a state of calm, focus, and clarity after one of those busy days in which, between the mind and the body, each seems to be more wound up than the other.