This tea comes from the Fujian Province in China, the same province that Golden Monkey comes from. Fujian is a mountainous, subtropical climate, which is a perfect environment for tea production. This climate has allowed Fujian to be one of China’s top tea producing provinces.
The tea is very unique for a variety of different reasons, not the least of which the way it looks. The rolled leaves covered in fuzzy hairs are eye-catching to say the least. During the tea harvest, only the buds are picked from the tea plant. These are the younger leaves that haven’t opened yet, giving them a much lighter flavor. With tea, the more oxidized the leaves are, the more bitter their flavor. As the leaves age, particularly at a higher altitude, they often pick up some bitterness as well. This tea is neither oxidized nor is it made from mature leaves so it can be considered the lightest of the true teas.
The best time to produce this tea is during the first flushes, which are between late March and early April. Unlike green tea, these leaves are best when they are picked on a sunny morning so the sun gets a chance to dry the remaining moisture off the buds. The leaves are then placed in a shallow basket and left to wilt underneath the sun. This dries out the leaves so they can be brewed, without affecting their taste by cooking them. They are finally baked dry at a low temperature, once again in an effort to process the leaves without cooking them.
Within the Fujian province they are 2 distinct regions that each have their own style of silver needle tea. The Zhenghe and the Fuding regions differ mostly in their methods of drying the leaves. The Zhenghe style is given a longer time to oxidize and therefore picks up a bolder taste and fuller body when compared to its counterpart. This is important to consider if you prefer bolder or lighter teas more than the other.
As a white tea, this has a lower caffeine content and a higher antioxidant content when compared to the other types. For that reason, many consider white tea to be one of the healthiest beverages.
My recommendation is that you purchase this tea from Tealyra. They have a great variety and supply tea of the highest quality. Being one of the more premium teas, it is worthwhile to make a good investment into this tea. Even though it seems expensive, even some of the most expensive teas cost little over $1 a cup. Brewing tea can be not only an enjoyable experience but a smart economic decision as well because it is a fraction of the price of a cup of coffee at a café and it is much healthier for you as well.
Silver Needle is the most expensive of the white teas, but it is well worth it for this unique drinking experience. Never before have you tasted such a light tea. The brewed tea is virtually clear, with a light shade of champagne coloring. Although it is so light, it packs a ton of distinct flavor. The aroma is very delicate and many people describe it as smelling like fresh cut hay. Although this sounds a bit unusual, any silver needle lover will soon begin to crave this fresh aroma.
To brew this tea, make sure the water is around 167 to 176 degrees F (75-80 C) because this is a white tea and doesn’t do as well with extremely hot water. The tea can be steeped for up to 5 minutes because it has such a light flavor to it.