Jasmine Snow Flake
There is a mythical mountain in Sichuan province. For many people, it is a household name that, when spoken, evokes an air of the otherworldly. This place is called E’Mei 峨眉.
Of the four sacred Buddhist mountains in China, E’Mei is the highest peak. It is home to more than seventy ancient temples and is regarded by Buddhists as the place of enlightenment. Many people will know it for the well established community of monkeys that reside amongst the temples and engage with visitors of the mountain.
Tea cultivation on E’Mei dates back to the Tang Dynasty, when fresh teas from its peak were delivered to the imperial palace as Tribute Teas to the Emperor. Traditionally, 6 teas from this mountain are used for Zen meditations; Jasmine Snow Flake is one of them.
This tea has a very poetic name in Chinese — 碧潭飘雪 — which loosely translates to “tranquil snowfall over jade pond”. The image references a very calming scene in nature, and also describes the beautiful experience of brewing this tea: in water, the green tea leaves drift to the bottom of the teapot while the white jasmine buds float above, like snow suspended on a lake.
For our Jasmine Snow Flake the base green tea is Emei Spring Maofeng, a delicate and tender first harvest green tea from gardens at the peak of Emei Mountain. The jasmine flowers come from the small village of Jiajiang, known for having the best jasmine flowers in Sichuan.
Tea leaves have long been known for their remarkable capacity to absorb and preserve the scent of flowers that would otherwise disappear. However, the process of scenting tea leaves is laborious and long-developed; it began in the Southern Song Dynasty more than 1000 years ago. It requires a careful understanding of the ratio of flower to tea, and several rounds of infusions to achieve a lasting transfer of the flower's otherwise fleeting scent.
Traditionally, scenting is done in small batches: tiny jasmine blossoms are scattered with the tea leaves on bamboo mats and left overnight, where the tea leaves gradually absorb the delicate night-aromas of the blossoms. The next morning, craftsmen separate the jasmine flowers from the tea leaves, and the tea is baked over charcoal for a few hours. This Jasmine Snow Flake went through six rounds of scenting, with the entire process taking more than two weeks to complete.
The tea leaves look extra green in this harvest. They are rich in their scent, binding with the scent of jasmine to produce something very enveloping. The liquor is more weighty and less sweet this year, without any astringency, making it feel glycerol and composed. The jasmine is vivid and immediate: drinking this tea is a presencing and more contemplative experience than previous years. It lasts for over 6 infusions, gradually becoming sweeter and sweeter.
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|Steep time||10 - 60 sec|
|No. of infusions||8|