Memories with the scent of jasmine
By Laura Azikaeva  ·  2024-04-08  ·   Source: NO.15 APRIL 11, 2024
Laura Azikaeva with a bracelet of jasmine flowers on her walk through Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, in October 2023 (COURTESY PHOTO)

Have you ever thought that fragrances are like time machines? Inhaling the aroma of an old book, favorite perfume or tea can transport us through time, painting a vivid picture before our eyes and allowing us to relive a moment from the past.

On an ordinary day this past winter, I brewed fresh jasmine tea in my room. The rich, floral aroma with its barely perceptible nutty undertone took me on a warm little journey into memory.

Before coming to China, I used to wonder which city I should visit first. "Probably, it will be the capital—Beijing," I thought, looking at colorful photos of tourists against the background of the Great Wall. But sometimes life prepares its own surprises for us and I was offered a university place here in Shanghai.

A spontaneous trip to Suzhou, a city located in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, in Jiangsu Province, was my first trip outside Shanghai. Being an easy-going person and considering that Suzhou is located only 100 km from Shanghai, I agreed to accompany my friend from Uzbekistan and did not regret my decision for a second.

As soon as we arrived in Suzhou, we saw an elderly woman near the railway station, who was sorting snow-white buds in her hands. Seeing our interest, she called us over and showed us how to weave beautiful bracelets from the small buds. As it turned out, these were jasmine flowers. Being a big fan of jasmine tea, I couldn't hide my admiration and shared information about the healing properties of this divinely fragrant flower. The woman looked at me with a kind smile and handed me a bracelet woven from jasmine buds, saying, "This is a gift. It will look good with your green blouse."

The bracelet was made of silver wire, which made it easy to adjust and was universal in size. It was fixed with a bright green ribbon. I was captivated not only by this woman's generosity, but also by her attention to detail. As we continued our journey through Suzhou, I couldn't stop admiring the unusual jewelry on my wrist, exuding a wonderful fragrance.

Later, we decided to try the local ice cream. The ice cream parlor had a familiar aroma. It was jasmine ice cream, studded with small buds of this healing plant, a delicacy with a creamy base and a combination of freshness and sweetness. Jasmine ice cream is characterized by a slight bitterness, similar to that which is experienced when drinking jasmine tea—this makes the taste of the ice cream even more distinctive.

A little fatigue from our walking tour of Suzhou, thirst and the aftertaste of sweet ice cream made us think about finding a place for a short break. The choice fell on a traditional-style teahouse. To fully immerse ourselves in Suzhou's flavors, we asked the teahouse owner which tea we should try. He offered us several types of tea, but we decided to opt for jasmine tea to complete our jasmine adventure. He invited us to take part in a tea ceremony and proudly informed us that Suzhou's jasmine tea is one of the best in China.

During the Song Dynasty (960-1279), Suzhou became one of the first cities where jasmine was not only grown, but also used as an ingredient for brewing tea. In the second half of the 19th century, Suzhou jasmine tea became one of the most popular varieties of tea in the northeast and north of China and retains its high quality to this day.

Drinking jasmine tea combines the useful with the pleasant because it not only has a wonderful taste but is also a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Jasmine tea is known to help normalize sleep, relieve stress and anxiety, improve brain function and fill the body with vigor and energy.

Every time I brew jasmine tea now, it takes me on a warm journey through Suzhou, wandering through the streets with a beautiful bracelet on my wrist, exuding the scent of fresh jasmine flowers.

The author is a student from Uzbekistan at East China Normal University in Shanghai 

Copyedited by G.P. Wilson

Comments to

China Focus
Special Reports
About Us
Contact Us
Advertise with Us
Partners:   |   China Today   |   China Hoy   |   China Pictorial   |   People's Daily Online   |   Women of China   |   Xinhua News Agency
China Daily   |   CGTN   |   China Tibet Online   |   China Radio International   |   Global Times   |   Qiushi Journal
Copyright Beijing Review All rights reserved 京ICP备08005356号 京公网安备110102005860