Harney and Son’s Guide to Tea defined osmanthus as “A native to China, the osmanthus flower is apricot-scented with a fetching yellow-orange hue.”
During the Song Dynasty, the flower-scented teas were invented. Jasmine is the most famous one, but rose and osmanthus have also been blended with various types of teas since. Today you can find osmanthus flavoured oolong tea in the market, and there are lots of lovers of it. This does not include me because I enjoy pure teas more, and I also think that low-quality teas are flavoured/scented to improve their flavours.
Apart from being a beverage, osmanthus flowers are also used in other industries. In 2017 and 2018, 22 million osmanthus plants and 3 million kilograms of osmanthus flowers were sold, and osmanthus flower extracts have even been made into cake, wine and skincare products*.
Chinese love their osmanthus, and when I was in Guilin last winter, I bought 200 g of it. Actually, it turns out that I do not really like the taste. It is too intense and tart for me. But apparently, it can be used to treat asthmas, ease rheumatism, joint pain and stomach ache (Hong, Li, Tea and Tea Set). It is this sharp edge camomile also has but intensified dramatically. Or it’s as if you are smelling a lot of lilies which are quite overwhelming.
I still would not blend osmanthus with tea, but perhaps a herbal tea blend is not a bad idea.
Origin: Yangshuo, Guangxi
Harvest time: 2019
Leaf colour: Vibrant yellow flowers
Liquor colour: Light yellow
Tea aroma: Floral (dry leaves)
Tea taste: Sweet and tart with deep floral notes
Steeping/brewing: Place 2 g of this tea in a 150 ml teapot and infuse for 2 minutes. You can re-steep another time. Add 1 minute to the second steeping.
Shelf life: Fresher the better.