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Osmantus flower of fall- aromatic local snacks (2)

By Gao Ceng  (Shanghai Daily)

13:43, October 18, 2012

Osmanthus wine

Osmanthus winemaking dates back more than 3,000 years. Records show very different ingredients and techniques used for imperial and public consumption.

Public wine sellers used to add osmanthus petals during the process of fermenting rice wine, a strong, sweet and mellow drink made from rice flour. The alcohol content can be 20 percent or higher because the rice is converted to a large amount of sugar. Generally, the longer the wine is aged, the better and smoother the taste is.

By contrast, winemakers for the imperial court used tiny osmanthus fruits and petals, no rice, to make osmanthus fruit wine.

The imperial palace used mountain spring water, osmanthus flowers and their "noble fruit" from Wuxian in Jiangsu Province, according to Roger Sun, manager of Yu Bar at Shanghai Marriott Hotel Luwan.

The wine was golden in color, mild in taste and had a sugar content of more than 18 percent. It preserved the floral essence and was smoother and more elegant than the strong rice wine that could overpower the flower, he says.

The old wine recipe used in the Forbidden City was lost after the fall of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), but in 1956 a Beijing-based wine company rediscovered the formula.

Sun, inspired by the old osmanthus wine, created a cocktail called Yu Gui Fei (88 yuan+15%) or Imperial Concubine. In addition to osmanthus wine, Sun uses blue curacao, litchi liqueur, lemon and grapefruit juices.

"The tart juice gives the sweet aged osmanthus a more refreshing taste, while the sweetness of litchi echoes the floral notes of the osmanthus wine," he explains.

Hong Kong celebrity food critic Cai Lan writes in his blog that aged osmanthus wine has great potential for cocktail making because of its elegant sweetness.

"For me, a cocktail based on aged osmanthus is better than Canadian ice wine as the after-dinner sweet wine," he says.

Where to taste:
Venue: Yu Bar, Shanghai Marriott Hotel Luwan
Address: 28/F, 99 Jiangbin Rd,Shanghai
Tel: 5318-8888 ext 6590

Osmanthus tea

Compared with osmanthus dishes and wine, osmanthus tea offers a simpler and more direct floral flavor and fragrance.

Generally, there are two kinds of osmanthus tea, one using a single dried osmanthus flower and the other blending the dried flowers with varieties of green or black tea, says Annie Wang, the tea sommelier at Pudong Shangri-La. These are infusions, somewhat like jasmine tea.

Compared with green and black tea, flower tea requires higher infusing temperature, around 90 degrees Celsius to ensure all the fragrance is released, she says.

Single-flower osmanthus tea has a clear golden color, sweet and refreshing aroma, mild taste and a sweet aftertaste. It is considered nourishing and builds qi (energy flow).

Blended tea features more complexity since osmanthus has different flavors and aromas when encountering different varieties of tea. For example, the taste is sweet and clean in green tea, mild and floral in black tea.

At Gui Hua Lou, the Chinese restaurant at Pudong Shangri-La named after osmanthus, single-flower tea is served as the complimentary pre-meal tea. The osmanthus Tie Guanyin (Iron Guanyin premium Oolong tea) (158 yuan+15%) and the osmanthus black tea (128 yuan+15%) are recommended.

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