Jasmine: The Sweet Scent of Chinese Folk Music

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Jasmine: The Sweet Scent of Chinese Folk Music is a blog dedicated to exploring the beautiful and intricate world of Chinese folk music. Through posts and articles, we’ll discover the history and meaning behind some of the most popular folk songs, and learn how to appreciate their beauty for ourselves.


Jasmine (茉莉, mò lì) is a type of flowering plant that is native to tropical and subtropical regions. The Jasmine flower is white and has a very strong, sweet fragrance. The blooming of jasmine flowers signals the arrival of summer in China. For centuries, the flower has been revered for its beauty and unique fragrance, and it has been used in traditional medicine, religion, and folk music.

Jasmine tea (茉莉花茶, mò lì huā chá) is a type of Chinese tea that is scented with jasmine flowers. The tea leaves are usually picked in the spring and then scented with fresh jasmine blossoms in the summer. Jasmine tea has a light, sweet flavor and is very refreshing. It is one of the most popular types of Chinese tea.

Jasmine flowers are also used in traditional Chinese medicine. The petals are often steeped in water to make a fragrant tea that is said to have many health benefits, including aiding digestion and relieving anxiety.

In Chinese folk music, the jasmine flower is often used as a symbol of love and beauty. Jasmine flowers are often mentioned in songs about young love, marriage, and fertility. The fragrance of jasmine flowers is also thought to be good luck for new beginnings.


Jasmine: The Sweet Scent of Chinese Folk Music is a book about the history of Chinese folk music. It covers the origins of Chinese folk music, the different styles of Chinese folk music, and the different regional variations of Chinese folk music. The book also discusses the influence of Chinese folk music on the development of Chinese classical music.

Ancient Times

The first reference to jasmine as a musical instrument can be found in the Shuowen Jiezi, an early dictionary of Chinese characters compiled by Xu Shen around 100 AD. In it, jasmine is listed as one of the instruments used by the ancient Chinese people.

Jasmine has been mentioned in many other ancient texts as well. In the Zuo Zhuan, a record of the conversations of Confucius and his disciples, jasmine is mentioned as an instrument that was played during the Spring and Autumn period (771-476 BC). The Liji, or Record of Rites, an important Confucian text dating back to the 3rd century BC, also mentions jasmine as an instrument to be played during certain ceremonies.

These references show that jasmine was already an established musical instrument in China by the time of the Spring and Autumn period. It is likely that the instrument originated even earlier than that.

The Tang Dynasty

The Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE) is often considered the golden age of Chinese civilization. It was a time of great economic, social, and cultural prosperity in China. The tang dynasty saw the rise of many new types of music, including the popular genres of choral music and instrumental music.

One of the most important aspects of Tang dynasty music was its focus on melody and rhythm. This can be seen in the many folk songs that were written during this time. These songs were often about everyday life and contained simple, yet catchy melodies. Many of these folk songs are still popular today.

Tang dynasty music also made use of a wide range of instruments, including percussion instruments, flutes, zithers, and lutes. One of the most famous pieces of Tang dynasty music is “Jasmine Flower” (茉莉花). This song has been popular for centuries and is still sung by many Chinese people today.

The Song Dynasty

Jasmine (Jian Hua) is one of the oldest and most popular Chinese folk songs. It is said to have originated during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), when it was first sung by imperial concubines. The song became widely known during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), when it was performed by wandering minstrels. It later became a staple of Chinese opera and was often used as an encore piece. Jasmine is also known as “The Flower of the Yangtze” and “The Flower of Shanghai.”

The Ming Dynasty

The Ming Dynasty was a time of great change for China. One of the most noticeable changes was the introduction of jasmine into the country. Jasmine had been brought over from Persia and quickly became a symbol of wealth and power. The elite class began to wear jasmine in their hair and on their clothes, and it soon became a popular fragrance for both men and women.

Jasmine became so popular that it began to be used in folk music. This new genre of music was called “jasmine music” and it quickly became a favorite among the masses. Jasmine music was often sung by female singers and it usually told stories of love and loss. The lyrics were often written in a code that only those in the know could understand, making the songs even more mysterious and alluring.

Today, jasmine is still an important part of Chinese culture. Jasmine tea is one of the most popular beverages in China, and jasmine rice is a staple dish at many celebrations. The sweet scent of jasmine will always be associated with the Chinese people’s long history and rich culture.

The Qing Dynasty

The Qing Dynasty was the last imperial dynasty of China, lasting from 1644 to 1912. The Qing period saw China’s economy, technology, and culture reach their height. One of the most significant aspects of this period was the spread of Chinese folk music, particularly the style known as jasmine.

Jasmine is a type of Chinese folk music that originated in the southeastern province of Fujian. It is characterized by its lyrics, which are often about love or nature, and its signature instrument, the erhu. Jasmine music was traditionally performed by women, and it became extremely popular during the Qing Dynasty. Folk musicians would often play at festivals and other public events, and jasmine songs became an important part of Chinese culture.

During the Qing Dynasty, many folk musicians migrated to Beijing, where they found work as court musicians or in theater orchestras. As a result, jasmine music became more widespread and began to influence other types of Chinese music. In the 20th century, jasmine music evolved into a more modern form known as Cantonese opera. Today, Cantonese opera is one of the most popular forms of Chinese opera, and it remains an important part of Chinese culture.

Types of Jasmine

Jasmine, also known as jin yin hua, can be found in many different forms throughout China. The most popular and well-known type is the white jasmine (bai jin yin hua), but there are also green (qing jin yin hua) and yellow (huang jin yin hua) varieties. All three colors of jasmine have their own unique properties and uses in Chinese culture.

Jasmine Tea

Jasmine tea is perhaps the most famous of all Chinese teas, and has been enjoyed for centuries. It is made by infusing green tea leaves with the fragrance of jasmine blossoms. The best jasmine teas use only top-quality green tea leaves and fresh jasmine blossoms, which are picked early in the morning when the flowers are at their peak.

There are two main types of jasmine tea: scented and blended. Scented jasmine tea is made by layering fresh jasmine blossoms with green tea leaves and allowing them to infuse overnight. The next day, the flowers are removed and the tea is ready to drink. Blended jasmine tea is made by blending green tea leaves with dried jasmine blossoms. This type of tea has a more intense flavor and is often used in cooking.

Jasmine tea is traditionally drunk without milk or sugar, but you can add them if you like. It can be served hot or cold, and makes a refreshing iced tea on a hot summer day.

Jasmine Oil

Jasmine oil is an essential oil derived from the flowers of Jasminum grandiflorum, an evergreen vine native to China. The oil is also known as jessamine oil or jasmine absolute. It has a sweet, delicately floral scent and is used in perfumes, cosmetics, and soaps. Jasmine oil is also used in aromatherapy and as a massage oil.

Uses of Jasmine

Jasmine (Jian Zhu) is one of the most popular and well-known flowers in China. It is called the “king of flowers” and has been associated with grace, elegance, and even love for centuries. Jasmine flowers are used in a variety of ways, including for their delicate flavor and fragrance.

In Chinese Medicine

Jasmine is used in traditional Chinese medicine, specifically for treating anxiety and depression.A 2009 study showed that inhaling jasmine oil had an anti-anxiety effect on rats.

Jasmine tea is made from steeping jasmine blossoms in green tea. Research suggests that drinking jasmine tea may offer some health benefits, such as lowering blood sugar levels.

In Aromatherapy

Jasmine oil is popular in aromatherapy. Jasmine is believed to have a number of benefits, including:
– Jasmine is said to be a natural antidepressant.
– Jasmine is thought to boost self-confidence.
– Jasmine is said to ease labor pains.
– Jasmine is thought to be an aphrodisiac.

In Perfumery

Jasmine is used extensively in perfumery and has been called the king of oils and the oil of love. The main types used in perfumery are Jasminum Sambac (Indian jasmine) and Jasminum Grandiflorum (Spanish jasmine), which yield an absolute and a concrète, respectively. The absolutes are used more commonly in modern perfumery than the concrètes due to their greater stability and cheaper production methods.

Jasmineabsolute is a very expensive oil, but due to its high endurance to both heat and light, a little goes a long way. It is used as a fixative in the perfume industry and is also blended into most floral-based perfumes.


Jasmine is a beautiful and evocative flower, with a long association with Chinese culture. The sweet scent of jasmine has been enjoyed in China for centuries, and its fragrance is often used in traditional Chinese folk music. While the plant is not native to China, it has become firmly entrenched in Chinese culture, and is now an important symbol of the country. Jasmine is widely cultivated in China, and its flowers are used to make a variety of products, including tea, perfume, and medicine.

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