What The He — Is Jasmine?

At 11:44 AM -0400 8/25/07, George wrote:

Okay girls and guys, what the he– does jasmine smell and taste like???????? I have searched both SM’s site for about 10 minutes or more and the Internet for probably over 45 minutes on jasmine, jasmine flavor, jasmine taste, etc, etc. All I get are listings of dozens of pages on it’s use as a flower in weddings, what properties it has for women in Japan, pages and pages on jasmine in tea, and the list goes on and on. Even went to Websters dictionary, online encyclopedias, etc, etc and nothing but uses, NOT A THING ON TASTE. I did visit over a hundred sites that listed jasmine and no results for the smell or taste of it. Tom seems to mention jasmine with sage and other herbs/spices. For all I know it could taste like baby kaka.

So, what is the taste and smell of jasmine?

It’s a very good question: I try to distinguish between jasmine tea and jasmine flower sometimes but fail to do it often enough. Those are the 2 most meaningful definitions to me. But in fact, at my house, I have pink jasmine and a white jasmine and they are different (my night-blooming jasmine failed to grow but that too is a bit different). All offer strong, permeating floral notes.

Yirgacheffes often have the most clear-cut jasmine notes of any coffee, but sometimes I refer to it when it is a very mild floral note, not based on the intensity or amount of it, but the quality – I tried to clarify that issue in my Flavor Quality Analysis spider-graphs. I’ll also use honeysuckle, and sometimes hibiscus, but don’t often use rose anymore since that’s a huge variation in aromas, and I don’t know enough to specify WHAT rose. Frankly, sometimes getting too specific in descriptions can hinder what i am trying to communicate, and just doesn’t work — i.e. it’s the wet aroma of the flowers from recently dried coriander at 3pm on Sunday.

Okay, that’s a bad example, but there is a LOT left yet-to-be-described in the coffee reviews so you, the taster, can fill in the blanks. I like to (usually) go beyond saying something is simply ‘floral’ but don’t want to kill all the fun of discovery by being overly specific (if I am even able to). I hope, at some point, you might notice that I try to keep it real, to keep descriptors firmly attached to things that you smell and taste, and avoid analogies like “this is the little black dress of coffees,” or this is “coffee for the x-games”, or “this is the honda accord of coffee”. I have heard all these used before, and i guess they DO describe something most people understand, but when you start down that path there is no return … it becomes an easy escape from really trying to attach coffee experiences to other true sensory experiences. – Tom