Sweet Osmanthus

Osmanthus fragrans (lit. “fragrant osmanthus”; Chinese: 桂花, guìhuā, and 木樨, mùxī; Japanese: 木犀, mokusei; Hindi: सिलंग, silang), variously known as sweet osmanthus, sweet olive, tea olive, and fragrant olive, is a species native to Asia from the Himalayas through southern China (Guizhou, Sichuan, Yunnan) to Taiwan and southern Japan and southeast Asia as far south as Cambodia and Thailand.

It is the “city flower” of the cities of Hangzhou, Suzhou, Guilin in China and is the “town tree” of the town of Yoshitomi, Fukuoka Prefecture in Japan.



In Chinese cuisine, its flowers may be infused with green or black tea leaves to create a scented tea (桂花茶, guìhuāchá). The flowers are also used to produce osmanthus-scented jam (t 桂花醬, s 桂花酱, guìhuājiàng), sweet cakes (桂花糕, guìhuāgāo), dumplings, soups, and even liquor. Osmanthus jam is used as an ingredient in a type of gruel called chátāng (茶汤), which is made from sorghum or millet flour and sugar mixed with boiling water. This dish is associated with the northern city of Tianjin, although it may also be found in Beijing.


In some regions of North India, especially in the state of Uttarakhand, the flowers of sweet osmanthus are used to protect clothes from insects.


In traditional Chinese medicine, osmanthus tea has been used as an herbal tea for the treatment of menopathies. The extract of dried flowers showed neuroprotective, free-radical scavenging, antioxidative effects in in vitro assays.

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