First off, sorry for not posting as much over the last couple of weeks. I’ve had a lot of things keeping me busy and my time to enjoy tea in the evenings seemed to just completely disappear! I normally aim for three blog posts a week and I’ll be damned if I let a busy schedule keep from doing it any longer.
Now my grovelling is out of the way, it’s back to the tea blog. It’s been a pretty fun weekend of holiday and house planning, but I’ve still found some time to try a couple of great teas too. One of those is a tea that has somewhat of a legendary status on was a variety that I’d been seriously looking forward to trying since I began exploring the world of tea.
It’s called Silver Needle, and it’s is a white tea from the Fujian Province of China. I ordered this one from Adagio Teas who offer a great range of rare teas and also have a large amount of customer reviews which help you really get a feel of what the tea your buying will be like. My only experience of white tea to date was a random tea bag that I found at work many years ago. Quite simply, it was not good and I quickly resorted back to Tetley. It was a short and not particularly enjoyable venture into the unknown. Now though, on my exploratory tea journey, the time had come to give it another go and add a white tea to the list.
So time for a bit of background information and to address why this tea looks so different from most others. Silver Needle (or Bai Hao Yin Zhen) is made up of immature leaf buds from the tea plant which are only picked for a few days each year in early Spring. That explains why it’s covered in those tiny white hairs then. The picked buds are only lightly processed too which means they keep their delicate flavour and colour once steeped, and also remain very much intact from tea bush to tea cup.
Because of the delicate nature of the tea, it needs to be made with water that is less than boiling so as not scald it. Yes, you read correctly, treat your tea leaves with respect or run the risk of a bad brew! Seriously though, white, green and oolong teas can be ruined by water that is too hot, (science alert) it releases all the tannins in the tea leaves which are responsible for giving it a bitterness or astringency.
In terms of steeping time, Adagio recommend between three and five minutes. Because the colour is so light and delicate it’s hard to judge how well steeped the tea is by colour so timing your tea is definitely a good idea. So, without further ado, I popped the kettle on (and let it cool a bit of course) and placed some of the tea buds in my teapot.
The aroma that came from the steeping tea was incredible. It was soft and sweet, with floral and slightly fruity notes, that built and built as the minutes passed. I first tasted the tea at three minutes and it was incredibly delicate so I decided to leave the infuser in while I finished my first cup to bring out the flavour a bit more. After five minutes I’d say it was perfect. Normally I’m not a great floral tea fan, although my enjoyment of Earl Grey may make you believe otherwise, but this white tea had a flavour that really appealed to me. Adagio describe it as ‘honeysuckle floral with a warm sugary finish and a subtle hint of white grapes,” and while my botanical knowledge and palate leave a lot to the imagination, I’m pretty happy that I at least picked out the same types of flavours that the professionals did!
Silver Needle is definitely a tea I could see myself drinking more of. It’s great for a laid back afternoon cup and is a perfect tea to relax and unwind with. I can certainly see what all the fuss is about when it comes to this very special tea.
Have you tried Silver Needle before? What did you think? Are there any other highly regarded teas that I should have tried by now? Please leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you.