What is Osmanthus?
Osmanthus is a tree that yields tiny, and very fragrant flowers. The fragrance is not as pungent as some other blooms such as jasmine or white magnolia, but softer, sweeter, and lingering. It is one aroma that is adorned and written about for centuries in East Asia where the plant is a native of. In Hong Kong the name is romanised as Gwai Fa; in Taiwan, Kui Hoe (Minnan); in China, Gui Hua; in Japan, Keika…
Dried flowers of osmanthus are used as an infusion, an ingredient in desserts, and even wine-making. Its name is used in naming of places, people and many things in between.
Making Phoenix Sweet Osmanthus
Those who have tasted an infusion of osmanthus or an osmanthus dessert may have probably been quite disappointed by the lack of taste and aromatic charm of either. The key really lies in retaining and transmitting that wonderful fragrance with a proper medium. That’s where Tea Hong’s Phoenix Sweet Osmanthus shines.
We have chosen an aged Honey Orchid Phoenix Dancong to absorb the fragrance of the fresh flower to create this tea. While in the scenting of green tea with jasmine, the flowers are layered thickly with the tea, doing that with a Phoenix oolong would definitely break all the delicate twiggy dried leaves. Osmanthus flowers also cost more to grow and to harvest. Using that approach will make the tea prohibitively expensive.
A Different Scenting Process
Since osmanthus flowers are tiny, 4 to 5 mm in diameter even at full bloom, we sprinkle the flower buds onto the tea, in thin even layers. Instead of relying on bio-heat as in jasmine scenting, the sandwich of tea and flowers is placed in a bamboo basket over a warm charcoal ash oven. The heat force the flower bud to open and release all its essential oils to be absorbed into the tealeaves. The dried flowers are then sieved out, leaving us a drink ingredient that is the marriage of a delicious Phoenix oolong blended with the aroma of osmanthus. Sweet osmanthus is the variety we use in this, hence the name.
A Tea Purist’s Stand
While tea purists may not like the idea of a scented tea, some tea hobbyists do enjoy a selection with a more noticeable and luxurious aroma. It would be a waste to let the leaves soak in a large teapot and consumed by the gulp. To entertain your guests, do short infusions using proportionally more leaves for that magical bouquet. ( Please refer to the product page for infusion tips ) Use a smaller infusion ware such as a gaiwan or a taster’s mug so each person has a small sip in every round of infusion to best heighten the sensation.
Tea Hong’s Phoenix Sweet Osmanthus is optimally scented and properly aged for a sophisticated balance of fragrance and taste. I am, after all, a purist in the heart.