Silver Needle Tea (pǎi.xǎu ǐn.ʈʂə́n)
Ingredients: White Tea Leaves
Silver Needle tea is a white tea produced in south-east China in the Fuding and Zheng He districts in the Fujian Province. It has been revered for centuries by the Chinese Imperial Family, also a firm favourite of the famous Tea Emperor, Huei Tsung (1101 – 1126AD).
Silver needle white tea is revered as the simplest, rarest, exquisite and most prized of all white teas as it hand-harvested just two days of the year in early spring. The precise timing of the harvest is of course dictated by the weather and no two harvest are the same.
To retain their name sake “silver” characteristic the buds are hand-harvested before the sun rises over the mountains. Only the youngest, tender and fat upper most buds of the tea bush are picked for their delicate structure. The buds are quite large and covered in pale silvery-white “down” that looks like tiny hairs, they are quite unique with an exceptionally smooth, soft and luxuriousness texture.
The hand-picked buds are simply placed on to bamboo racks or in bamboo baskets to wilt and dry naturally. Silver Needle tea is very slightly oxidized, but not fired or fermented which gives it its ivory colour and exquisite delicate qualities. It has a lingering fragrance of sweet honeysuckle and the merest hint melon and white grapes. Some even say it is reminiscent of fresh flowers with the sweet undertones of honey. Silver Needle, when brewed has a very delicate and refreshing infusion with a sweet, silky, round smooth finish and is light and refreshing on the palate.
To make just one pound of this very rare tea it takes more than 4,500 hand-sorted buds. This makes it the most expensive variety of tea, also known as the champagne of white tea.
As Silver Needle White Tea is the least processed of leaf teas it has higher antioxidant properties; so is believed to be the most potent to help to keep us healthy.