Sweet Osmanthus (Osmanthus fragrans) flowers are also known as gui hua. These tiny dried yellow blossoms are among China’s most heady and intoxicating flower blossom fragrances.
China’s great flower-scented teas were developed during the Ming dynasty ( 1368-1644). Osmanthus, jasmine, rose, orchid, lotus, gardenia and wintersweet were all used to delicately scent batches of tea. Today, these lovely teas are still popular and the best ones are made without the addition of artificial perfumes.
These tiny flowers are bright golden/yellow in color and have a pure, fresh, exotic fragrance which is unforgettable. Dried osmanthus flowers can be purchase separately and added to green, black or oolong tea as desired. A little goes a long way, so use judiciously. I am especially fond of semiball-rolled oolong teas such as Tieguanyin and Ben Shan to which a scattering of osmanthus blossoms have been added.
Song Zhi Wen a Chinese poet from the Tang Dynasty spoke highly of osmanthus when he wrote: ‘sweet- scented osmanthus seeds fell on the Moon as its fragrance in the sky wafted through the clouds.”
The verse on the back of my cup has been translated for me as such:
wooden brushes write of the glory year after year, from age to age
For detailed information on the history of Chinese 12 Flowers of the Months tea cups, please read my post from January 1st, 2010.