Jasmine Pearls (also called Buddha’s Tears) are a stunning example of tea, infused with the natural perfume from jasmine flowers. The tea is harvested in early spring and processed into green tea (although other bases can be used, green tea is the most common). The tea is hand rolled into tight balls about half a centimeter in diameter.
The tea is stored for a few months until jasmine flowers are in full bloom. The jasmine flowers are harvested very early in the morning while their petals are still closed to preserve their perfume. The flowers are chilled until nightfall when the magic happens. The balls of green tea are placed onto the ground in a long row and the jasmine flowers are piled onto them. As the flowers gently warm under the evening warmth, they begin to open, releasing their perfume.
Since tea is so so sensitive and absorbent, the green tea readily captures the perfume, drawing the oils deep into their leaves (this is one of the reasons storing tea in the correct manner is so important).
Soon the perfume has been transferred from the jasmine flowers into the green tea balls and the process is repeated the next night with fresh jasmine flowers. Each time the process is repeated, the jasmine scent intensifies.
Jasmine Pearls are graded by the quality of the green tea base and the number of times that they have been exposed to the jasmine flowers. The process is usually repeated 5-6 times.
As with all commodities, when there is something that is valuable, fakes will also exist. The most common way of making “fake” jasmine pearls is to use artificial jasmine perfume. These compounds are synthesized in a laboratory, have a longer shelf life and are extremely cheap. At Impala + Peacock we value organic teas free from flavor enhancers which makes it a tricky tea to source. A well trained nose and some knowledge of the growers will quickly identify synthetic flavor enhancers over the real thing.