Best time to travel to China

Sweet Osmanthus in Bloom

These fragrant flowers symbolize the flavor of autumn and are used in various food products


Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin
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With the arrival of autumn, the pleasant aroma of sweet osmanthus on the streets flows with a breeze and fills the entire cities. Sweet osmanthus is known under various names such as osmanthus fragrans, tea olive, sweet olive, and fragrant olive. This famous traditional tree is dotted by a large number of yellow clusters and grows naturally in southern China. It is also widely planted in the region of the Huai River and areas south of it. Among them, the city of Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Guilin even consider sweet osmanthus as the 'city flower.'

There are over a hundred varieties of sweet osmanthus in China that can be divided into four groups with a variation in blossom color: Thunbergii (yellow), Latifolius (white or cream-yellow), Aurantiacus (pale orange), and Semperflorens (white). The latter one blossoms the entire year while others bloom roughly in September and October. Hence, if you want to view all types of sweet osmanthus and enjoy its pleasant fragrance, late September through early October would be the best time to do so.

Except for its fragrance and exquisite small shape, this flower is also famous for the food products and drinks where osmanthus is the main ingredient. One of the delicious hot drinks is Fragrans tea, a traditional Chinese tea with soft flavor. Osmanthus wine is another drink made of this flower. Osmanthus fragrans is also a popular ingredient of various desserts. For example, the osmanthus cake with a 300-year history is famous in Shanghai, and moon cake with osmanthus is one of the Mid-autumn festival treats. Also, people usually put the dry flower into different dishes like porridge, roast duck, and steamed lotus root.

Another peculiar fact. Guilin translates from Chinese as " “Forest of Sweet Osmanthus," so it could be your best choice for booking a tour and spending some time in the city of osmanthus trees.

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