Osmanthus flowers are small, delicate blossoms that are highly regarded for their uniquely sweet fragrance. The name of the flowers consists of 2 greek words 'osma' (fragrant) and 'anthos' (flower).
Osmanthus has been known in China for centuries, with early writings dating back to the Warring States period; the book Mountains and Seas (山海经) mentions that there was an abundance of it. Today, the flower is a key ingredient in many Chinese desserts such as rice cakes, jelly, and sweet soups. Last but not least, this flower is often steeped as a tea or used as part of a tea blend.
When our fresh Osmanthus flowers are harvested, they aren't ready for sale right away. They require a process of filtering, rinsing, and drying/heating before achieving a high-quality end product. In this blog post, we will explain the fascinating process making dried osmanthus.
Note, if you plan to harvest and process these flowers yourself, we will explain how to do it yourself in the last section.
Freshly harvested Osmanthus flowers will contain twigs, leaves and other impurities. Therefore, the flowers need to be processed through a multi-layer filtering process. This process starts with a coarse strainer that filters the large twigs and leaves, and ends with a fine mesh sieve that out the smaller twigs. The remaining visible impurities will afterwards be removed by hand.
After removing the impurities, the flowers are gently soaked and rinsed with cold water. This process makes sure to remove the remaining impurities which are not visible to the eye such as soil and sand.
Finally, the flowers are dried to decrease the water content to below 5%. This ensures the flowers are suitable for long-term storage.
There are several methods for drying flowers. One traditional way is to let them dry outdoors in the sunlight. However, this method is highly reliant on the weather.
Larger farms therefore invested in modern machinery to dry the flowers. These machines gently rotate while heating the flowers at 40ºC. The rotation movement will allow the flowers to dry evenly.
After heating, the flowers need to cool down, and release the last bit of moisture. Once ready, they're packed and ready for retail.
DIY: Make Dried Osmanthus Flower Yourself
If you plan to harvest and rinse the Osmanthus flowers yourself, then the filtering and rinsing process can be done in one step. Put the flowers in a mesh kitchen sieve and remove the visible impurities. Then gently rinse clean the flowers under the tap. Make sure to allow sufficient time to drain the flowers.
Afterwards, spread the flowers thin on baking paper to let it further dry for 1 hour. Then heat the flowers in an oven at low temperature (40ºC) for 4 hours. Alternatively, if the temperature outside is above 30ºC and the sun is shining, you may dry it outdoors for 5-8 hours.
Once ready, you can let the flowers cool indoors. At last, store the flowers in a zip bag or airtight jar to preserve its freshness.
That's it! If you are interested, take a look at our osmanthus recipes: