Tea Olive (Osmanthus Fragrans) 

  1. Flower scent
  2. Tea Olive (Osmanthus Fragrans)
  3. Ghin-Mokusei (Osmanthus Fragrans)
  4. Kin-Mokusei (Osmanthus Fragrans var. aurantiacus)
  5. Osmanthus Tea
  6. Ghin-Mokusei (Osmanthus Fragrans) and Kin-Mokusei (Osmanthus Fragrans var. aurantiacus)
  • ルビ付き和訳 (Japanese translation)


1.  Flower scent

An image of Osmanthus Fragrans
[Click images to enlarge / どの画像もクリックすると拡大します] Is that the tree? / あの木か?

Fall came earlier than usual.

When I was taking a walk, something reminded me of the feeling of early fall in Charleston.

I stopped in the middle of the way and looked around. 

A nostalgic, sweet flower smell like fruity gardenia was in the warm, humid air.

But I couldn’t tell where the flowers were just by looking around.

I could perceive this scent in many parts of the city; on the path through the fields, in residential areas, in parking lots. 

What was it? I was very interested in the first fall after my moving. 

I asked my neighbors and posted a photo of a “suspicious” tree on Facebook, where an old student identified it for me. He used one of his “apps”, I had never been so impressed by modern technology.

One name for the tree is Tea Olive. 

2. Tea Olive (Osmanthus Fragrans)

Tea Olive trees can be of a person’s height or can reach the roof of a house, and the shape of the tree is varied, but in general, they look rather inconspicuous.

Also, the flowers look like someone tore up white, crumpled crape myrtle flowers, and inserted each piece between the leaves and a branch. You hardly see them from afar.

An image of Osmanthus Fragrans
It’s me! / ここだよ!

However, the tree is very “vocal”.

When I walk in town thinking about something, suddenly I feel a blanket of fragrance thrown over me. 

Surprised, I look around. It is a Tea Olive tree standing in someone’s yard, and it can be ten meters (thirty feet) behind me. 

It feels as if it were saying, 

“Hey, I say ‘hello!’”

and it makes me smile.

3. Ghin-Mokusei (Osmanthus Fragrans)

Tea Olive is translated as “Ghin-Mokusei” or “Mokusei” in Japanese. “Ghin” means silver, and “Mokusei” is the name for its family and its genus. It seems that trees of this kind, if not exactly the same as Tea Olive, have existed in Japan for a long time.

The Ghin-Mokusei has the same Latin name as Tea Olive, and its lowers symbolize “Integrity” which derives from the image of pure white flowers.

As I was looking around on the Internet, I found a Japanese business running several care facilities and group homes for the elderly needing nursing service, whose name is “Gin-Mokusei”.

It was a little unexpected but “Gin-Mokusei” is a good name. 

“Ghin (silver)” can be a poetic way of describing gray hair. 

Its elegant sweet odor is very charming, so people of all ages would be happy to liken themselves to it.

4. Kin-Mokusei (Osmanthus Fragrans var. aurantiacus)

An image of Kin-mokusei
Kin-Mokusei / きんもくせい

In today’s Japan, however, it is its variety, Osmanthus Fragrans var. aurantiacus (fragrant orange-colored olive) which is popular. We often see them in people’s gardens and parks. 

We will refer to it as “Kin-Mokusei”, the shorter Japanese name. “Kin” means “gold”.

It came to Japan from China during the Edo Era (1603-1868).

Its flowers contain carotenoid which explains the orange color.

Since the fragrance of Kin-Mokusei is so powerful, it is dubbed “Ku-ri koo (9 ri or very far-reaching fragrance)”.

Taking advantage of the strong sweet scent, people used to plant Kin-Mokusei near their bathrooms when there were no or few flushing toilets. Probably based on that tradition, chemically composed Kin-Mokusei-scented deodorant for the bathroom was very popular  when I was small.

Also, some temples and shrines have planted them believing that the fragrance deters evil spirit. 

5. Osmanthus Tea

An image of Osmanthus Tea
Osmanthus Tea from China / 中国の桂花茶

In China and Taiwan, they also love Kin-Mokusei’s fragrance. They infuse its scent in tea and liquor, they make candy of the flowers, and I have seen on YouTube a bowl of shaved ice with Kin-Mokusei-flavored syrup on it!

“Keika-cha” is the word for tea scented with any flower of the genus Osmanthus, and you can make keika-cha at home with fresh flowers.

According to a recipe, you pick the flowers which are about to open (when their scent is at its height) and mix them with green tea or lightly fermented black or Oolong tea. Use two parts of tea for every one part of the flowers. Pour very hot water (90 degrees Celsius or 195 degrees Fahrenheit) over the mixture and enjoy. 

6. Ghin-Mokusei and Kin-Mokusei

In Japan, it is said that Kin-Mokusei smells stronger than Ghin-Mokusei.

However, the odor of Charleston’s Ghin-Mokusei spreads so widely that I was a little doubtful. I could find no testimony from Japan of someone who actually smelled both flowers. 

Fortunately, I found an interesting website of a nursery in Georgia, USA, where they grow both Gin-Mokusei and Kin-Mokusei for sale.

And the people have actually smelled both. 

The strength of the odor was not mentioned, but they say the smells are subtly different and Kin-Mokusei has a stronger sweet element.

I will be interested in growing Kin-Mokusei in the future, because it will be as beautiful and it seems they consider its scent more Asian.

But first things first; two years ago, we planted a small Ghin-Mokusei or Tea Olive like our neighbors.

I hope it grows healthily and begins to “talk (smell profusely)” with its scent in our yard.

And one day, I will be able to make Osmanthus Tea.

[End of the English post]



  1. はなかお
  2. ティー・オリーブ
  3. ぎんもくせい
  4. きんもくせい
  5. けいちゃ 
  6. ぎんもくせいときんもくせい


1. はなかお










2. ティー・オリーブ









3. ぎんもくせい

ティー・オリーブは、ほんでは「ぎんもくせい (銀木犀ぎんもくせい)」「もくせい (木犀もくせい)」。まったおなじではないかもしれませんが、このしゅほんにはむかしからあったようです。






4. きんもくせい

一方いっぽう今日こんにちほんしたしまれているのは、ぎんもくせいの変種へんしゅである「きんもくせい (金木犀きんもくせい)」です。にわ公園こうえんでよくかけます。





5. けいちゃ

An image of Osmanthus Tea
Taiwanese Tea of Osmanthus, nuts, and dried fruits thickened with lotus root flour. / きんもくせいの香りの台湾のお茶、ナッツや干し果物入り、レンコンでとろみをつけたもの




6. きんもくせいとぎんもくせい








そのじゅん調ちょうせいちょうして、にわで「しゃべる (すごくかおる) ようになって」しい。



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