Jasmine, this fragrant and beautiful flower is full of mystery and virtues. In Thailand, it is the symbol of maternal love and respect. It was chosen over roses as gift on Mother’s Day, which coincides with August 12th, the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, The Queen Mother. This flower can be widely found in Thailand and has many different uses and significations, which we will discover in this cover story.
Jasmine is a genus of plants called Jasminum. There are actually well over 200 species of the plant, and they come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. You can find them all over tropical and subtropical regions of Europe, Asia, and Oceania. But, the highest diversity of jasmine is in southern and southeast Asia.
Thai people like to plant jasmine trees near their house: the lush green leaves provide a welcome respite for the eyes and the white flowers lend a gentle fragrance to the air when they open in the early morning.
Like many flowers grown in Thailand, it is not a native species. It originally grew wild from Persia, now known as Iran, to Kashmir. The common variety with single petals, known simply in Thai as Mali, was brought to Thailand and the rest of tropical Asia from northern India. The double-petalled cultivar, known as Arabian jasmine, but which Thai people call Mali Sorn, came much later, but both have been grown here for so long that they have been naturalised. Both are grown for their exceptional fragrance, but the one with single petals bears more flowers nearly all year round, hence it is more widely cultivated, not just in Thailand but in other countries as well.
Jasmine, in Thailand, is a symbol of maternal love and respect. So, for mother’s day (12th August), children offer a garland of Jasmine to their mother and kneel in front of her, and that whatever age.
You will also see jasmine flowers arranged in garlands. They are called Phuang Malai and sold at markets, in the streets as well as at crossroad intersections. They can be hung on the mirror of the car or the handlebar of the motorcycle. They are used extensively in the decorations for weddings, where it not only adds a beautiful smell to the ceremony but also additionally communicates commitment and a deep spiritual love. Jasmine arrangements are also presented to the spirit altars in form of respect.
The Virtues of Jasmine Flower:
In addition to its perfume and its special meaning, jasmine is a plant that also has multiple virtues. It has antibacterial properties as well as anti-depressant and antiseptic values.
Tea scented with jasmine can be the perfect gift to bring back from Thailand, studies show that regular consumption can reduce heart disease and cholesterol. It is usually mixed with green or black tea. Jasmine flower buttons are hand picked early in the morning and stored until later. In the evening, when the flower begins to open, the tea is mixed with jasmine over the night. Jasmine will give it’s beautiful perfume to the tea. This operation has to be repeated six or seven times so that the tea keeps this beautiful taste.
In Chiang Mai, the company Monsoon Tea, focuses on making exceptional wild and free-grown tea from the hills of Northern Thailand using traditional and sustainable cultivation methods. They are one of the few companies in Thailand producing Jasmine Tea (390 THB - bag 100 gm). Their head office can be visited daily at 328/3 Chareonrat Road, they also have a beautiful shop at One Nimman (open daily).
@ Monsoon Tea : www.monsoontea.co.th
Jasmine in Thai Cuisine:
In Thailand, Jasmine is used to lend an aromatic flavour to the summer favourite Khao Chae dish, or to the coconut milk and sugar palm concoction used to lace some Thai desserts, like Lod Chong.
Jasmine rice is known around the world. But is does not contain jasmine at all, it is just a kind of appellation for rice.
Jasmine Essential Oil:
Jasminum sambac is the source of jasmine oil, which, along with rose oil, is the most expensive oil used in perfumery. This is not surprising because it is said that it takes 8,000 flowers to obtain one drop of jasmine oil. In Chiang Mai, Wan Waan company produces pure essential oils that have been extracted naturally. Their Jasmine collection includes natural oil, body lotion, salt scrubs, hand-cream shower gel, shampoo and conditioner made with the best quality pure essential oil and natural ingredients.
@ WanWaan : www.wanwaanofficial.com
Shops at Chareonprathet Rd and One Nimman 2nd floor.
Jasmine Spa Package:
Since ancient times, lotions made of jasmine have been used to treat sunburn and rashes. Another reason why this flower is so famous is because of its strong and beautiful fragance. People adore it and it is not a surprise if Shanta Massage has made it one of its top ten fragrance for spa massage. Located in Nimmanhaemin soi 9, Shanta Massage presents a relaxing Jasmine Oil Massage for the price of only 450 THB per hour.
@ Shanta Massage : tel. 099-937 7862
Facebook : shantadayspa
Nimmanhaemin Road, Soi 9. Chiang Mai.
Jasmine is easily one of nature’s most beautiful and fragrant treat’s and whether you enjoy it as an indoor plant, aroma oil or as part of your garden decoration, this flower is as beautiful as it smells.