White tea, mostly prized for its high antioxidant activity and anti-aging properties is known for its delicate aroma and subtle taste and is loved by so many people worldwide. There are different types of white tea available in the market but if you decide to experiment with white tea there is one type that you should definitely make yourself familiar with and make sure you keep in your pantry ALWAYS!
What is that? The king of all white teas, Silver Needle!
In this post you will learn all you need to know about this amazing white tea!
Origin & History of Silver Needle White Tea
White Hair Silver Needle or Bai Hao Yin Zhen in Chinese, is a type of top grade white tea, known for its characteristic white tips covered in silvery hair. It is one of the most famous teas worldwide and it is usually rather pricey too. It is mainly produced in Fujian, Fuding and in Zhenghe, China. The White Tip produced in Fuding is also called “The North Road Silver Needle Tea”, while the White Tip produced in Zhenghe is called “The South Road Silver Needle Tea”.
The two varieties have some differences. The South Road Silver Needle is usually a lot darker, since it is oxidized for a much longer time, offering a full-bodied brew while the North Road Silver Needle is much brighter. Even though different in taste and appearance, both teas are equally loved by their followers.
Silver Needle white tea was first produced in the area nearby Taimushan Mountain in Fujian, China. In the late 1700s the tea was rare, created only from the small buds of the local tea trees. But in 1857 when the Fuding and Zhenghe tea variety were bred, their larger and fluffier buds helped White Tip become really popular. Emperor Guangxu started the export of Silver Needle to foreign countries in the late 1890s and the tea started becoming increasingly popular.
Today white tea is enjoyed mostly by itself for its exotic aroma and alluring flavor while in some countries (mainly European) it is often found blended with black tea.
Production of Silver Needle
What makes this type of white tea so special is its unique way of production. Silver needle is better when produced from first flushes (when the yea’s first new buds “flush”, taking place between late March to early April.
For its production, single buds covered with fine white downy hair, are plucked carefully and with the utmost care by tea pickers, right when they fully develop and are ready to open. The plucking of white tea is very strict and buds that are damaged cannot be picked. Ideally white tea is plucked in a sunny morning when the sun can dry the remaining moisture on the buds.
The best quality of white tip is produced with the traditional method of leaving the plucks in shallow baskets to wilt under the sun for some time. Another way to produce it is taking the plucks indoor to wilt in a chamber with artificial warm air. Then the softened plucks are ready for drying after being piled up and oxidized.
Chinese tea lovers describe silver needle as “white like cloud, green like dream, pure like snow, aromatic like orchid” and for no wonder since the tea has a lot to offer in terms of taste, aroma and health properties.
How to brew Silver Needle Tea
To properly prepare this type of delicate tea you would have to follow the same process as with any other type of white tea. Silver Needle is best prepared with hot but not boiling water (around 75 to 80 degrees Celsious or 167 to 176 degrees Fahrenheit) and should be steeped for 2-3 minutes. Ideally you should use 2-3 teaspoons of dried White Tip leaves for 8oz of water.
The water temperature is important to make a good cup of white tea. This is a very delicate tea so always make sure your water is below the boiling point.
It yields a pale, ivory colored brew and characteristic are the tiny white hairs floating that reflect light. Its aroma reminds that of “fresh-cut hay” while its flavor is slightly sweet and mellow, vegetative but less grassy than green tea’s with a clean, fresh and floral aftertaste.
Most devoted tea drinkers would suggest to drink Silver Needle unsweetened in order to experience its distinctive, delicate taste and fragrance fully. If you still want to add a hint of sweetness in your tea I highly recommend using just a bit of Tupelo honey or Ohi’a Lehua Blosson honey. Both will compliment the tea’s exotic flavor excellently!
How to store Silver Needle
This very high quality, premium white tea is not your average tea and in most cases it is highly priced too so you need to take good care of it and store it properly to maintain its full fragrance and flavor. Always make sure to store your tea in an airtight container (check these amazing tea tins by Teavana) and away from sunlight to avoid it coming in contact with any odors or moisture that could threaten its quality.
Are you ready to experience the beauty and unique and unsurpassed delicate flavor of the best white tea in the world? This is a tea you don’t want to miss on for sure!
These precious white tea buds are hand picked by experienced farmers and will offer an amazing beverage with creamy mouthfeel and sweet, fruity notes!