Jasmine tea is a type of scented tea which absorbs aroma from jasmine blossoms. Scented tea was known during the time of the Song Dynasty(960–1279); however it was reserved for the Imperial Court. Typically, jasmine tea employs green tea as the tea base; however, white tea and even black tea are also now used. The resulting flavor of jasmine tea is subtly sweet and highly fragrant. It is the most famous scented tea in China.
Tea leaves are harvested in the early spring and stored until the late summer when fresh Jasmine flowers are in bloom. Jasmine flowers are picked in the late afternoon when the small petals are tightly closed. The flowers are kept cool until nightfall. In the early evening, when the flowers begin to open, the tea is blended with Jasmine flowers and stored overnight. During the night Jasmine flowers open, bloom and release their fragrance into the tea. It takes over four hours for the tea to absorb the fragrance and flavor of the jasmine blossoms. This scenting process may be repeated for as many as six or seven times. The tea absorbs moisture from the fresh Jasmine flowers so it must be dried again to prevent spoilage.
In northern China it is customary to serve Jasmine tea as a welcoming gesture to guests. Jasmine tea is the local tea beverage of Fuzhou, while Jasmine flowers are the municipal flower of that city.