O is for Osmanthus Silver Needle


Hopefully you have enjoyed a cup of Silver Needle…

Also known as Bai Hao Yin Zhen – Silver Needles is a famous white tea with a rich history. White teas are made only from the newly sprouted buds of the tea plant. The young buds are best in spring. The buds have silvery white down that provides a honey texture to the brew. It’s widely esteemed for its delicate appearance, elegant sweetness and noble character. Silver Needle is exceedingly rare and beloved by tea connoisseurs.

But, you probably have never heard of Osmanthus blossoms….

Osmanthus Blossoms, or “Guay Hua,” usually come from East Asia. Cute little Osmanthus flowers grow on shrubs and are typically harvested late in the year (autumn). As a result, Osmanthus-scented teas are often the last teas available each year. Osmanthus scenting is quite like jasmine scenting. Osmanthus Blossoms are mixed in with the tea, allowed to sit and scent the tea. Fresh Osmanthus Blossoms are then mixed in, so it can happen all over again. The process is repeated, up to 10 times.

There are several different species of Osmanthus flowers. The kind used for culinary pursuits and tea blends is Sweet Osmanthus (Osmanthus fragrans). It is often described as having a taste and scent reminiscent of peach or apricot. The blossoms plume a dazzling yellow, like jasmine. The scenting of an Osmanthus tea, in fact, is near identical to the process used for jasmine tea.



More about Osmanthus…

It is also called fragrant olive, sweet olive or sweet tea, and it produces clusters of not particularly showy flowers that have an extremely powerful apricot fragrance. It is a small, upright, evergreen tree or large shrub that will typically grow to 10-15’ tall in cultivation but may reach 20-30’ tall in its native habitat in Asia (Himalayas, China and Japan). The leaves are oval, leathery, and glossy green (to 4” long). Tiny white flowers appear in axillary clusters in spring, with some sporadic bloom through the summer into fall. Varieties of the species bear flowers in orange, gold and reddish hues. The plant has very fragrant flower. Genus name comes from the Greek words osme meaning fragrant and anthos meaning flower.

Next… Osmanthus Silver Needles in my cup…

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