Osmanthus fragrans, also known as the tea olive plant, produces the intoxicating little osmanthus flowers that are used to infuse green, black and oolong teas.
The Tea Olive Plant is native to asia, and the flowers have been harvested and dried for centuries. You can often find chinese tea with the prefix Gui Hua which denotes that the tea leaves have been infused with sweet osmanthus.
The osmanthus flowers smell is one of my favorites, and once you smell the flower, you won't soon forget it! It reminds me of ripe and juicy peaches or apricots on a warm summer day.
This sweet and wonderful scent is transferred to the tea leaves while the tea is drying. The oils pass to the tea leaves, infusing the warm and sweet aroma.
The result is when you brew tea infused with osmanthus flowers, a sweet and warm scent and flavour is present.
Osmanthus flowers are one of my favorite to use to enhance the flavour of any tea, but adding it to my favorite delicate white teas is a true enjoyment.
Where to buy Osmanthus
The quality of dried osmanthus flower can very greatly. I had a merchant once try to sell me this bag of brown dried up bits and tell me it was osmanthus flower.... well the flavor was terrible! You need to look for whole flowers, that have been dried yet retain their original colouring.
We now use Mountain Rose for buying osmanthus. They have certified organic product that is top quality. You can visit them by following their banner below.
Commercially Produced Osmanthus Tea
There are several tea companies that produce commercially infused osmanthus tea for your enjoyment. While I love to blend my own tea, if I am in a pinch, these are some of my favorite osmanthus teas:
Some people have the tea olive plant growing in their yards and don't even know it! It is popular as a landscape shrub in North America.
The tea olive plant is evergreen, and often used to make hedges, or as a specimen plant. It responds well to shaping and is a fast grower. The osmanthus flowers appear in spring and again in the fall. If you are lucky enough to have an osmanthus fragrans growing in your yard, harvest those flowers and cherish them!
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