What makes our Honey Pearl Pekoe special?

The Difference of Tea Hong’s Honey Pearl Pekoe
March 24, 2017 Tea Hong
In Nature of Things

Visual clues

There are plenty of selections for jasmine scented green tea in the market, but if you are in for a floral aroma that is pure, sweet, natural, and long lasting; a taste that is soft, silky and yet deliciously deep, something like Tea Hong’s Honey Pearl Pekoe maybe the rare find for you.

Comparing the tealeaves of two other jasmine pearls with that of

Comparing the tealeaves of two other jasmine pearls with that of Honey Pearl Pekoe

Comparing the infused tealeaves of two other jasmine pearls with

If the product photo on the top of this post shows only bead size and colour, the infused tealeaves in the photo here reveals the difference of the harvest materials used in the three different tea qualities. Tea Hong’s Honey Pearl Pekoe is by far the most tender of all. Notice that not only are the other two rougher picks, they are also later picks from the tea plant — they are duller in colour, if they have been processed in the same timely manner.

Only first flush pekoe tips

Although the ultimate proof of quality is tasting, there are quite a few visual clues you may want to know before you go shopping.

Scenting masters examining a batch of fresh flowers at the jasmi

Scenting masters examining a batch of fresh flowers at the jasmine market

For a start, we employ only first flush pekoe tips, the raw material for a smoother body and richer taste. The young leaf shoots are then processed in the traditional Eastern Fujian green tea style and manually twisted into small beads. This green tea is in itself so good that some of our European clients sell it without scenting as one of their staple rare green tea selections, alongside with very fine Longjing and Huangshan Maofeng.

Unlike other mass market products that are also scented with real jasmine flowers, we use a lot more flowers than tea, and a total of 7 rounds of scenting, to allow each kernel of these small beads to fully absorb the aromatic oils that are release in the brief moments when the small white flowers begin to open their tiny, delicate petals.

7 rounds of scenting

Jasmine flower buds being traded in the wholesale market for scenters

A batch of jasmine flowers being shovelled into bags made of net for delivery to a scenting factory. The net helps to keep the temperature low for the flower buds lest they could bloom before actual scenting begins.

In each round of scenting, pre-blossom buds are laid in between thin layers of the green tea. The biological heat trapped in-between the half-meter high sandwich tricks the snow white buds into blooming. One key skill to master in scenting with flowers this way is to optimise the duration to allow for maximum absorption of the bouquet essence while refraining from rotting the fragile blossoms with the heat and moisture generated. At the end of each round, after the flowers are separated from the pearls, the wetted tealeaves have to be taken through drying to be ready for the subsequent round.

Repeating this step intensifies the pure jasmine aroma for the tea on one hand, and ensures thorough penetration of aromatic matters into the core of the beads. Doing it seven times is extremely rare in the trade, because not only does each round costs labour and materials, but also the risk of ruining a complete lot in any one of the intricate steps.

Pure jasmine flowers

Jasmine scenting pile

Scenting with real flowers is a lot more complex than it sounds. One element to manage is the heat and moisture given out by the flowers when piled with the tealeaves. Excessive exposure to these spoils the leaves. The duration of the piling has to be optimised so that enough fragrant matters are absorbed into the leaves while maintaining tea quality intact. That is why a well scented selection has to be scented a few rounds. Here a tea master from a French company poked her hand into the pile and was shocked at the heat intensity in the pile.

There is also one secret in the jasmine scenting trade: Michelia alba, a south China native tree magnolia. These long-petal, fiercely perfumed flowers are blended into jasmine to deliver instant glorification for the scenters. Many can simply do a single round and the inexperienced buyer would think that it is worth three.

However, there really is no shortcut to quality. The pure aroma of jasmine is different from the pungency of the Michelia. Nor can the abbreviated scenting process result in a final product which aroma last through a cup, let alone repeat infusions.

That is why we put in the efforts we do to make our Honey Pearl Pekoe. Enjoyable wholesomeness in a traditional honest package, because there is no shortcut to quality.

There are other products that are spared with extracts and other chemicals for flowery scents, as those in fancy looking teashops in Paris or Milan. Their poor quality is not worth my mentioning really.

See Honey Pearl Pekoe now

Comments (0)

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *