Jasmine & Lavender

Bright Lavender

Last month was dedicated to jasmine, and in this coming month SmellyBlog will be paying extra attention to lavender as an ingredient in flavour, skincare and perfumes. I've been craving a perfume that combines both of these wonderful notes, and my lab experiments with this idea seem to be a befitting way to transition from one theme to the next.

I've approached this "brief" if you will, in a rather simple way: layer together jasmine perfumes and lavender perfumes and see if that works. I layered Brin de Reglisse over some rather dramatic white-florals to mellow down their headiness. And when I approached this in the lab - I began the day before by layering my two soliflores - Lovender and Yasmin.

I'm not a fan of layering, and I'll tell you why: what usually happens for me when layering one perfume over another on the skin is that the top one will dominate. It's a very rough way to blend two scents together, and on the way, the nuances of one are lost, and some things that are not necessarily desirable get amplified. In this case, the coumarin notes in Lovender were just too much to my liking and the mimosa in Yasmin just smelled sour and icky. That's why I hardly ever recommend layering scents... The results are so far from the original intent of the perfumer.

With those problems anticipated I set off to compose something that takes the best of both worlds (hopefully). I sort of amalgamated the two formulae, but decreased the amount of coumarin-rich components. My Jasmine & Lavender fixation was satisfied. And I got to play in the lab with some other ideas that kept me itching with curiousity. Such as another try at bringing out the tea qualities of jasmine, and rebatching limited edition Jasmine Pho - a refreshing, almost juicy-aldehydic, green-citrusy jasmine fragrance that is very enjoyable in summer.

Apricot & Jasmine Tea Cake

Apricot Jasmine Tea Cake

Jasmine has a hint of a fruity, almost apricot-like aspect. So I felt inspired to try this combination, using infused jasmine tea leaves as a fragrant variation for my classic Apricot & Almond Torte, in which jasmine tea has been infused into the cake and also added to the top of the cake in the form of a drizzled icing.

10 Tbs. salted butter, room temperature
2/3 Cup sugar
1/4 tsp. Haitian vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup almond meal (100gr)
2 tsp. double acting baking powder, or 1 package German Backpulver
1/2 cup STRONG jasmine tea, at room temperature (see more on that below)
1 Tbs finely chopped, infused (wet) jasmine tea leaves
About a dozen fresh apricots – or enough of them to cover the cake’s surface

For the icing:
3 Tbs icing sugar, sifted
1 Tbs strong jasmine tea at room temperature
A few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice


• To prepare the jasmine tea, infuse 1 cup of water at 175F with 1Tbs of fine and fragrant green jasmine tea or dragon pearls. Infuse for no more than 2-3min to avoid it becoming too bitter, and reserve the brewed tea leaves to add to the cake later, and also for serving more with the cake once its baked!
• Use an 11 inch springform pan, lined with parchment paper.
• Cream the butter with the sugar and vanilla extract.
• Beat in eggs, one at a time.
• Sift the flour with the baking powder Beat into the egg mixture. Add the buttermilk and mix well.
• Add the chopped-up, infused jasmine tea leaves
• Spread the batter into the baking pan.
• Place the apricots on top, slightly overlapping, with the cut side facing UP.
• Bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out pretty clean (as long as you don’t insert it through the fruit!)
• Prepare the icing by stirring all the ingredients with a fork or a mini wire whisk
• Once the cake cooled down, drizzle with the jasmine tea icing, and scatter a some whole, infused jasmine tea leaves for decoration on the top.
• Keeps well for a 2-3 days (if it lasts!). If you refrigerate, bring to room temperature before serving.

Apricot & Jasmine Tea Cake #Jasmine #Apricot

Brewing Jasmine

Jasmine Tea

We had jasmine bushes growing in abundance in my village - almost in every household's garden. Even my frugal family - which had a strict policy about growing only useful things such as vegetables, medicinal herbs and and fruit trees - had one growing at our courtyard in front of the house. The poor little bush would release its intoxicating aroma even when it looked rather miserable. It never seems to give up on flowering, at any given season,  And at one point I was tempted to make a cup of homemade jasmine tea, simply by letting a single flower float on top of my cup of boiled water. It smelled like heaven, tasted as bitter as death, and left my tongue numb!

The technique of perfuming tea with flowers is an ancient art that was invented in China. During the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD), J. sambac from Persia arrived in China. By the 5th Centruy, teas were already perfumed with jasmine flowers. But it wasn't until the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) that jasmine tea because popular the world over due to its introduction to the West.

By nature's own divine wisdom, tea gardens fortunately grow in close proximity to where some fragrant flowers can also thrive. All shades of tea can be perfumed with jasmine, including silver needle, red tea and oolong - but the most popular of them is jasmine green tea.

The technique of perfuming tea was originally developed to enhance the aroma of lower quality leaf, but because of demand and growing appreciation for this particular flavour, there are now many different grades, forms and qualities available, especially for jasmine tea.

Jasmine Pearls

Green jasmine tea is mostly produced in Fujian province in China, and is harvested in September - the prime time for jasmine sambac flowers in the region. The tea leaves and flowers are harvested at dawn. The tea goes a partial process, up to the stage of "fixing" by heat. While the tea leaves are still humid they are layered alternately to form an inch-thick carpet with fresh jasmine flowers. These flowers are left there for about 24 hours so that the tea leaves can absorb their perfume. The tea leaves are then heated for an hour to set the fragrance in, and the flowers are then removed before they begin to decompose so that the scent does not deteriorate. This same process will be repeated with a new batch of flowers, between 2-6 times. Between 30-50 kg of flowers are required to perfume 100 kg of undried tea leaves.

The flowers themselves have a bitter taste when brewed, which is why they are removed. You'll rarely find a jasmine blossom in a high quality jasmine tea. Poor quality and aromatized teas will have plenty of those, as if to convince the naive buyer that they are the real deal. Originally, the process of perfuming teas was created to improve the taste and aroma of medium quality teas. It was only later on that mediocre or worse quality teas were aromatized - in other words, sprayed with a manmade flavouring to enhance their taste and mask their poor quality. Sometimes these are easy to recognize because they have some dried jasmine flowers added later on for decoration and marketing purposes.


Jasmine tea is recommended for pairing with coconut desserts, and in general all mildly sweetened Asian desserts go fantastically well with it, which is possibly why you'll be served a pot of jasmine tea as soon as you sit down for dim-sum. It is also served to accompany the pho - the deliciously light Vietnamese noodle soups, where the jasmine's aroma beautifully complements the fresh cilantro and basil leaves. Jasmine Tea Mooncakes (pictured above) are a traditional food of the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrated in mainland China, Taiwan, Vietnam and among Chinese communities the world over. It's a pastry that is filled a paste or a cream made of taro root or lotus-seed or a variety of other modern interpretations, to which other flavours (such as tea, fruits, nuts, and more recently also coffee and chocolate) can be added.

black dragon pearl tea

For Jade Jasmine Pearls, the choicest tea leaf is selected: a tiny twig with the entire bud and two leaves (similar to Bai Mu Dan, AKA White Peony), which are impregnated with jasmine's perfume and rolled into a pearl-sized ball.

Jasmine Silver Needle is a fine white tea in which the tender leaves are picked when they are still closed. They look like a needle, and their silvery fuzz in clear sight, which explains their name. In the brewing process, these tiny silver hairs separate form the leaves and float to the top of the cup, creating a beautiful light-reflecting shimmer that adds to the visual enjoyment of the tea. Some flowers may be found in these teas, but this is from a different variety that is not as bitter.

Jasmine Green Tea is the most popular, and the one that you will most likely find in an adulterated form. Watch out for tea blends that have many blossoms in them - these usually serve only a decorative purpose (most jasmine flowers do not retain their aroma after drying), and are a visual clue that the tea is, in fact, aromatized.

Black Dragon Pearls

Jasmine Black Tea is rare, and usually scented with a unique, fragrant variety of yellow jasmine, Jasminum odoratissimum is a Madeira (Portugal) variety but due to its quality of retaining its fragrance after drying, it is also grown in Formosa (Taiwan) where it is used to perfume tea. I've only encountered black jasmine tea in the form of hand-tied teas.

jasmine tea ball

Hand-Tied Teas come in a variety of flavours, colours and designs that open up only after the "tea bud" is steeped in water for a while. The flower unfolds like a slow-motion time-lapse of a blooming bud. For best visual effect, use a clear glass teapot to brew this tea. They can be re-steeped many times, provided they are fresh.

Jasmine Beer: I've had the pleasure to experience a Jasmine IPA (Indian Pale Ale) from Steamworks, a local craft brewery located near the Waterfront Station in Gastown. It is hoppy in the most refreshing, fruity-bitter manner, which only accentuates the subtle jasmine tea notes that are hidden within. I see that there are many other jasmine IPAs produced by craft breweries. But if you can't get your paws on one, you can brew your own Jasmine Kombucha (see recipe below).

Jasmine Kombucha: When I learned that you could, in fact, used flavoured teas for kombucha brewing, I thought that my mind was going to explode from happiness (and ideas). Sometimes the best things are the simplest ones. Taking a fine ingredient, and making it even finer by a traditional, tried-and-true process. The key here is to have a good, healthy kombucha, and use the finest jasmine tea you can get. Another important component of a successful flavoured kombucha-making is that if you are using flavours, only to make them occasionally. The oils in flavoured teas do not add to the health of the culture. So you must alternate between making flavoured ones to plain ones. Follow the recipe for kombucha provided on this blog, using high quality jasmine-scented tea. You may also use flowering (hand-tied) teas, though this may be a bit of a waste of a beautiful thing (visually speaking).

Jasmine Tea

Jasmine tea

Like an emerald jewel Jasmine Tea perfume is deep green and sweet.
Although Jasmine flowers and Green Tea are themed in this perfume, it is not quite as dry or floral as you would expect a Jasmine Tea to be – but indeed quite edible!
Instead, it is like an earthy-herbal candied celebration of greenery.
Blood orange opens the almost-culinary experience  with fruity freshness, along with beautifully balanced floral heart of rich and full bodied jasmine (both Sambac and Grandiflorum) tea-like Osmanthus, and the sweetness of Rose and Rosemary absolute.
The underlining base accord of Green Tea, Cedar Absolute and Fir Absolute along with the citrus and floral bouquet creates a sweet and earthy impression that is both warm and vibrant.

The talented Lisa Fong from Artemisia Perfumes have created this perfume solely from natural essences. Lisa Fong’s style is that of refined elegance, which brings to mind Jo Malone’s perfumery, which emphasizes the individual ingredients. However, I do find these perfumes to possess a far greater depth and originality.
Of all her creations, Jasmine Tea is the sweetest – though not in the least cloying. It is an original and uplifting Gourmand.
Artemisia's other fragrances can be found at artemisiaperfume.com

Top notes:  Blood orange, Rosewood
Heart notes: Jasmine Grandiflorum, Jasmine Sambac, Osmanthus, Rose, Rosemary Absolute
Base notes: Green Tea Absolute, Cedar Absolute, Fir Absolute

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