Tea of the Week: Sunflower’s Jasmine Tea

For me, this orange and gold tin conjures up my first memories of Chinese tea. Sunflower’s Jasmine Tea is the classic and basic choice in many Chinese households, like Twinings is in the UK or Lipton is in the US. I can’t be positive, but I don’t think their packaging has ever changed over the past 30 years, and that’s part of this brand’s nostalgic charm…it’s an oldie, but a goodie.

This isn’t an expensive or rare tea–it’s a practical tea, something you can enjoy everyday without breaking the bank. The brew has a nice balance where you can taste the green tea and floral notes equally, without either flavor being more pronounced. You can find it at almost all Chinese grocery stores and definitely somewhere in your local Chinatown. If you are new to Chinese teas, the brew is a must-try. It’s exceptionally popular and pleasing to a variety of palettes.

I never separate or strain the tea leaves apart from my jasmine tea brew. I find it almost therapeutic to see the little cuts of leaves swimming and sinking in my teacup, just like they do when I go out for dim sum or Chinese food. An occasional tea leaf may accidentally sneak by and get swallowed, but take it from a Cantonese girl– the brew really shouldn’t be enjoyed any other way. That being said, over brewing this tea will bring out it’s bitter flavors, so be careful abut your water temperature.

Tasting Notes for Sunflower’s Jasmine Tea:

BREWING TIPS:  Although the package directions say to brew with boiling water, I like to brew this blend at about 160 degrees F, letting the leaves continue to brew as the water temperature cools. A small pinch per cup of water produces a light brew, which is ideally how it should be enjoyed.

THE BLEND:  Brown, thin, twisted tea leaves with a few jasmine flower petals mixed in .

THE SCENT:  Very floral and soft. Not as strong as rose scented tea, but delicate and very slightly perfume-like.

THE STEEP:  The body of the liquor is light but will continue to become heavier as the leaves have a chance to steep longer. Similarly, the brew will start off looking buttery yellow and later become a burnt orange color. When it starts to turn orange, it’s time to top off with more hot water.

GET IT:  The blend is available at Chinese markets, Chinatowns, and even on Amazon!

FOOD PAIRING:  This is the quintessential dim sum tea, so it would go amazingly well with any of my Dim Sum Recipes, but particularly any steamed dumplings like Siu Mai, Ha Gao or Shrimp & Asparagus Pouch Dumplings.