I haven’t had any jasmine tea at home in a while, and after many, many rounds of having the low grade stuff in a pot before meals at various restaurants, I decided it was time to order some. There was only one I’ve ever bought that was incredible to me, and it was the Steepster Select one many years ago, no longer available. I went out on a limb with Yunnan Sourcing because of their generally great reputation and because the pictures showed such beautiful downy white pearls that look just like good quality leaves should look.
I’m glad I trusted my instincts because this tea is as good as that Steepster Select one I remember. It has a certain jasmine quality that I love, a sort of pink bubblegum note in the fragrance and flavor. Otherwise the usual floral jasmine scent and maybe a hint of grape.
I’m brewing this in a gaiwan. The first infusion has a wonderful light sweet jasmine flavor, the green tea itself doesn’t have a strong flavor. It’s a subtle umami that really compliments the jasmine well. I don’t taste the usual vegetal notes of green tea here.
My second infusion was even sweeter and more rich, again with the floral notes, umami undertone, and hints of pink bubblegum, reminds me of the old Dubble Bubble gum I used to buy at the High School football game concessions stand as a kid.
The third infusion is a bit more umami rich and more floral. Definitely more heady and upfront on the Jasmine. Some people think strong jasmine is “soapy”, and while that’s usually meant as a negative, I definitely understand the correlation with soaps and perfumes. This infusion tasted a bit more perfumey to me, but not by any means too strongly or offensively.
As far as I’m concerned, this is going to be my go-to jasmine tea unless something changes or someone introduces me to a better one. I think the quality and price were on point, and I love that the green tea takes a backseat to the floral without adding any bitterness or muddling the flower notes with vegetal ones. This tea surprisingly gets even better on 4th and 5th infusions.
If you’ve read this far, I’ll share my secret to brewing perfect tea pearls in Gongfu style. Use 185F/85C water, which is a bit hotter than the usual recommendation for green tea. It helps the pearls to unfurl for a more full flavor and isn’t hot enough to bring out any bitterness in good quality green teas like this one. I’ve found that using the usual 176F/80C green tea temps on pearls like this often results in them never fully opening up, giving weaker and less nuanced flavor.
As for amounts, I used 2.5g pearls per 100ml of gaiwan capacity. No rinse. First infusion 45 seconds, then 30 for the second, then add 15 seconds for subsequent infusions.
Flavors: Candy, Grapes, Jasmine, Sweet, Umami