Jasmine tea has been a popular choice for tea drinkers for centuries and its history can be found in many cultures across the globe from Africa, South Asia and Europe. Jasmine has stood the test of time as being one of the most popular flavours of tea and has been frequently paired with green tea, to create an exceptional brew.
Hailed to contain similar health benefits as green tea, jasmine tea is said to have antibacterial properties, can improve the immune system, and is packed with antioxidants as well as helping with weight loss and combatting stress.
But when did we first start drinking jasmine green tea? Read on to discover more about this tea.
Jasmine Tea – Where it all began
Jasmine is a delicate white flower that has been used in decorations, perfumes, food and beverages for centuries and it is even the native flower of Pakistan, Indonesia and the Philippines. The earliest recorded use of jasmine flowers to add greater depth and flavour to tea leaves like green tea can be traced back to the Han Dynasty in China 206BC – 220AD.
However, jasmine doesn’t naturally grow in China. It actually originated in Persia, which is modern day Iran and was exported via India to China on the ancient Silk Road for centuries. The earliest recorded use of jasmine tea was recorded in the capital Fuzhou in the Fujian province of ancient China and is still in existence today.
The production of specifically jasmine infused teas only started in the Song Dynasty 960AD – 1127AD.
As the popularity of jasmine scented and flavoured tea grew, news spread via trade routes to other areas of China and jasmine tea soon became widespread across the country, as the population started to enjoy the new enhancement of black and green tea flavours by the addition of this exotic flower.
The Fujian province remained the main region where Chinese jasmine was grown, due to its optimal subtropical climate with mild winters and shelter from harsh conditions due to the surrounding mountains. The region is perfectly suited to farming jasmine flowers and it is still being used to grow jasmine today and Fuzhou, its capital, has since become a revered tea district.
When did jasmine tea reach The West?
After the Chinese became enamoured with black and green tea, including jasmine flavoured teas, it evolved into a cultural ritual and teahouses started springing up all over the country. Soon tea was being exported to Korea and Tibet in the seventh century, eventually making its way to Japan by the twelfth century.
However, it was the Dutch who were the first Europeans to discover jasmine green tea in the seventeenth century after hearing about tea from missionaries, sailors, explorers and traders returning back from the Far East. It only took a few decades before tea spread across the rest of Europe and became extremely popular in the UK.
Through the British Empire, the European culture of tea drinking made its way to Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Canada, America, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia. Soon each of these countries established their own tea drinking customs that are still in use today.
However, other countries also discovered the joys of drinking jasmine tea, green tea and black tea through the colonies of Spain, Portugal and The Netherlands, as well as Morocco and Russia, who also modified the culture and art of brewing the perfect cup of tea according to their traditions.
Jasmine tea today
Today, jasmine tea is enjoyed throughout the world, from Europe, North America, the Middle East and the Far East. It seems many cultures across the globe are now well aware of the health benefits of green tea flavoured with jasmine, as well as the distinctive flavour.
In particular Okinawa, Japan has very strong ties to jasmine tea made with sanpincha, but curiously the rest of Japan isn’t as enamoured with it. Jasmine tea’s popularity is what led us to create a product that would complement our liquid green tea and it is one of our best sellers.
Still being grown in the Fujian Province in China, since 1980, the state government of Guangxi Province has maintained the production of jasmine flowers for use in the tea industry and to ensure continued commercial development. The world’s largest jasmine tea processing plant is located at Heng Country in this area.
Pick up some of our liquid jasmine green tea today and see for yourself why we are so in love with it!