Tea Tasting: Silk Road’s Jasmine Pearls

I buy a lot of groceries in bulk and my favorite place to shop for those items is Rainbow Grocery. Most stores have small bulk sections, but Rainbow’s takes up a good part of the store. Rice, beans, herbs, oils, nut butters, soaps… tea. You could spend days in there perusing all the little jars and bins filled with things you’ve never heard of, little notes attached to each one on how to use the likes of sorghum flour or khombu seaweed.

What always catches my eye are the bins filled with things that seem oddly expensive. You’re browsing the cereal section where most things cost a couple of dollars a pound and your eye falls on a bin where the contents are fifty dollars a pound or more. The tea section is like that. Good quality loose teas abound for not very much money, but there are jars filled with the exception, and that immediately makes me curious. This time it was Silk Road’s Jasmine Pearls at $88/pound. But tea is light, right? Feather light. Surely I could get out of there with enough to satisfy my curiosity and not break the bank. I did, and here are the results.

The tea is beautiful—silvery leaves hand-rolled into perfect little spheres that unfold as the tea steeps. The resulting brew is a pretty straw yellow. I found the tea bright and light bodied with a slightly fruity flavor. Taking a sip was like leaning into a jasmine bush (in a good way). The smell and taste of flowers in anything can be overpowering and soapy and this tea wasn’t. It was very nicely balanced.

Note: Tea Tasting is a great theme for a tea gathering. For a printable guide to tea tasting terminology, click here.

Tea Notes from Silk Roads’ website:

“Jasmine Pearls is a delight to watch unfold as well as to drink. Early-picked green tea leaves are carefully rolled into small pearls with a white downy striping. Once rolled, the pearls wait until the jasmine flowers are harvested later in the summer. The flower petals are introduced and then removed after imparting their fragrance, a process that may be repeated up to seven times.”