The shrub blooms October through March, and off and on during the summer, with very small blossoms in clusters. The blossoms can be orange, white or reddish, depending on the variety. The blossoms are highly perfumed with an apricot and jasmine scent which carries a great distance.
The blossoms used as a flavouring in some teas and wines, and in some sweet dishes.
The blossoms can be added to hot tisanes. With green tea or black tea leaves, fresh Osmanthus blossoms can be placed between fresh tea leaves at the start of their drying and processing. Then, at the end, some blossoms are incorporated into the blended tea for looks. “Guangxi Guihua” black tea, for instance, has crushed Osmanthus blossoms in it.
Osmanthus blossom is also incorporated into a filling used inside fried patties known in English as “yellow osmanthus persimmon cakes” (the dough is flavoured with persimmon), and into a filling in dumplings that are known as Yuanxiao Dumplings and Pigeon-Egg Dumplings.
An extract is also made from the orange-coloured flowers.
The fruit can be harvested unripe, and brined like olives.
Osmanthus are blossoms harvested particularly in Gulin, Guangxi, along the Lijiang River.
The blossoms are very expensive, about $4,000 (US) per kg (2004 prices.)
Native to China and south-east Asia.