|"Who thought when we came to this city as refugees, that I'd end up owning my own tea shop?"|
|— Iroh to Zuko.|
The Jasmine Dragon is a traditional tea shop in the Upper Ring of Ba Sing Se; due to its location, its clientele mostly consists of the upper class citizens of the Earth Kingdom capital. It was once a failing business but was completely revived after Iroh took over. It opened shortly after he and Zuko arrived in the city as refugees. Iroh named it the "Jasmine Dragon" because, in his words, the name was "dramatic, poetic, and [had] a nice ring to it."
After arriving in the city as refugees, Iroh managed to get himself and Zuko jobs as waiters in a local tea shop. Iroh soon discovered, however, that the tea was less than to his liking, as he described it as "nothing more than hot leaf juice." He decided to take matters into his own hands and enforced some major changes. Business picked up, and soon, the city was buzzing about Iroh's fame as the "finest tea maker in the city". Upon learning about Iroh's brewing abilities, Quon, a merchant whose goal was to be the greatest tea baron in Ba Sing Se, visited Pao's tea shop to see if the rumors were true. More than satisfied, Quon tried to poach Iroh away by offering to fulfill his lifelong dream of having his own tea shop. Quon said he would finance a tea shop in the Upper Ring of the city, give Iroh full creative freedom, and even throw in a new apartment. The offer was too tempting to refuse, thus, Iroh readily accepted.
After Zuko's illness, and much to Iroh's joy, Zuko willingly and happily ran the Jasmine Dragon with his uncle. Business quickly picked up and Iroh's fame as a tea maker increased; praise of his brewing skills spread further through the city, until a royal messenger arrived, who brought with him a formal invitation for Iroh, asking him to serve tea to the Earth King. The invitation, however, turned out to be a trap laid by Princess Azula and led to Zuko's imprisonment in the Crystal Catacombs. Iroh sought the help of Team Avatar in an attempt to save his nephew, but due to Zuko's betrayal, the Avatar was "killed" by Azula's lightning and Iroh was captured by the Dai Li. The former general was taken back to the Fire Nation to serve his time in the Capital City Prison, leaving the Jasmine Dragon unattended.
The day before the arrival of Sozin's Comet, Iroh swore that he would liberate Ba Sing Se with the help of the Order of the White Lotus and reconquer his tea shop, intending to spend his retirement serving tea and playing Pai Sho. After Ba Sing Se's successful liberation, the defeat of Ozai and Azula, and the renewed peace after Zuko's coronation as the new Fire Lord, Iroh reopened the Jasmine Dragon and served tea to the young war heroes. Sokka also attempted to create a painting of the Jasmine Dragon and the heroes in it, so that they would never forget that moment in the tea shop. The Jasmine Dragon was also the place where Aang and Katara shared a passionate kiss, marking the start of their relationship.
Following the battle for Yu Dao, Aang brought Zuko to the Jasmine Dragon to rest after the Fire Lord passed out. Atop the tea shop's roof, the Avatar had his final conversation with Avatar Roku before severing his spiritual connection to him, feeling that it was a new world that he needed to face alone. Iroh called Aang back inside after Zuko woke up. Aang and Zuko sat at a table and had a conversation about what happened between them and their personalities in general. Zuko told Aang of his attempts to find his mother, which Aang encouraged by saying that "it's a new world" and "[he] had to take risks". Iroh offered them his new beverage made of milk, tea, and tapioca balls, which the two did not particularly enjoy, Zuko spitting his out.
Shortly after Yu Dao's inaugural celebration, Avatar Aang, Katara, Sokka, and the Air Acolytes reconvened in the teashop. While Aang led the Air Acolytes in meditation inside the shop, Katara and Sokka remained outside to prepare Appa for a journey back to the Southern Water Tribe. After the session, Aang thanked Iroh for letting him use the teashop as a meeting place for the Air Acolytes, prompting the latter to remark that the Avatar was welcome to use the shop at any time, given that tea and meditation naturally went together. Shortly thereafter, Iroh saw Aang depart for the Fire Nation, heeding Zuko's request for help, and subsequently bid farewell to Katara and Sokka when they departed for the docks.
Iroh continued working at the tea shop, with Feng becoming Iroh's main assistant, and sometimes ran the shop when Iroh was away. Spirits also started residing in the tea shop, and Iroh often served them new blends of tea, and kept them hidden from the other staff members, and the customers. Li-Mei started frequenting the shop as a regular customer, and introduced herself to Iroh one night after she stayed past closing. She returned to the shop later, and after the spirits' interference, Iroh asked her on a date to a restaurant in the Upper Ring, which she happily accepted.
The Jasmine Dragon is a large, exquisite building in the Upper Ring of the Earth Kingdom's capital. Two separate, broad stone steps lead up to a neatly tiled patio in front of the tea shop; in the middle of this patio is a large, rectangular fountain with a statue in the center. The elevated position of the terrace provides a panoramic view over the city.
Wide, stone steps stand before the wooden, double front door at the center of the building. At both sides of the door is a large, round decorative window and located above the door is a black sign decorated with carefully applied golden letters to form the name of the shop. The sign is flanked by two slim, elegant golden dragons. A large copper flowerpot sporting a neatly trimmed green bush stands at each corner of the shop.
The building sports eighteen windows, nine on each side of the door, all facing the street. Each window is made of wood of a rich deep brown color, and each has yellow shutters. The windows are on hinges, allowing them to fully swing open to let in the warm air of the Earth Kingdom and to let the sweet, inviting aroma of tea spread to passersby.
The tea shop consists of a large frontal dining room and a smaller working area and kitchen located at the back.
The dining area fills the majority of the available space. It is filled with aesthetic brown square and round tables with matching chairs. The tables are large enough to accommodate four people, but it is also possible to request a table for fewer.
In the middle of the shop floor lies a large, dark green, rectangular carpet edged with a yellow border and depicting two dragons. The lighting is mostly provided by natural sunlight flowing in through the windows during the day, but rectangular wood and cloth lanterns in the same yellow-green colors to match the Earth Kingdom feel are also hung from the ceiling to illuminate the shop at night. Right above the entrance is a framed piece of calligraphy displaying a proverb: "It is better to go for three days without food than one day without tea". Numerous intricate scroll paintings are hung on each of the room's walls, each artistry different than the other. As finishing touches, potted plants are placed at strategic locations spread over the shop, to create a more natural, green environment. Decorative kettles and tea pots are also part of the decor.
The entrance to the back room is separated from the main area by green drapes which can be drawn back to provide an easier access to the kitchen. White fabric dividers are hung above the counter to limit the customer's view of the kitchen.
Right at the door, two hostesses are positioned. Their job is to welcome the incoming customers and provide them with a table. Their attire consists of a fashionable Earth Kingdom dress in the typical green and yellow of the nation, also the primarily used colors in the decoration of the shop. The main color of the dress is dark green, with light green borders at the side and the shoulders.
There are several waiters and waitresses at work in the Jasmine Dragon. It is their job to serve the customers, provide refills and clear tables once customers have left. The attire of male waiters consists of yellow pants and a dark green robe, tied around the waist with a belt; the green robe has a lighter green border which runs diagonally down the front and sports some detail at the sleeves. Each man wears his long hair in a single braid down his back and has a round, dark yellow hat with a dark green rim and cross on his head.
Iroh, as owner of the shop, donned the same outfit, but Zuko wore a slightly modified version. The lighter green line on his robe ran straight down and he wore dark brown pants instead of the customary yellow pants. He also did not wear the hat that the other workers and Iroh wore.
Female waitresses wear a similar outfit, consisting of a dark green robe with a yellow border over a long brown dress with a yellow accent. They also wear the same yellow hat with a dark green rim and cross, but have their hair loose. They also typically wear aprons over their robe.
The following teas can be found on the menu of the Jasmine Dragon:
- Metal Brew — Black in color, withered leaves but strong in flavor―like an earthbender I once knew, Toph, who could manipulate the metal of the earth. This tea will crank you up and fuel you for your day, but look out: just like Toph herself, this brew really packs a punch.
- Ba Sing Quon — Named for the patron of this wonderful tea house, this green tea's leaves have a refined shape and a soothing texture. Subtle in its tastes due to a faster brewing time on lower heat, this tea is reserved for refined palettes here on the Upper Ring.
- White Lotus Tile — Named for the Pai Sho piece of the same name, pale tea is the most delicate of all teas. Yet, it can be deceiving. This tea holds secrets. Under its natural layers of sweetness hides a complex undercurrent of intriguing tastes and strength.
- Bender Tea — An oolong tea blended for those who cultivate a much more balanced approach to life. Named for two young benders, Aang and Katara, whose strength and flexibility against impossible odds proved that sometimes the right path, and the right flavor, are found in the paths between.
- Appa Blend — Something new and exclusive to the Jasmine Dragon, a concoction of flavors that, at first, may not sound (or smell) very good. This blend of milk, tea, and tapioca balls, much like its sky bison namesake, is full of surprises that favor the brave.
- Red-blooded Nephew — Amber in color and grassy in taste, this tea is not for everyone. Like my own nephew, Zuko, this tea is strong, but its boldness can leave a bitter taste in the mouth. It also tastes like Zuko made it. It's not a very good tea. I should take it off this menu, probably, but I'm too lazy.
- A possible name for the shop was "The Tea Weevil", but the suggestion was quickly deemed absurd by Iroh himself.
- The shop seemed to be located at the side of one of the fancy streets of Ba Sing Se's Upper Ring. When Katara and Momo first visited the tea shop, a shot showed that there was another building across the street. However, when Aang stepped out on the patio during the final scene of the series, there was not a building across the street, but the patio allowed a nice panoramic view of the entire city below.