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    Tasting Silver Needle Chinese White Tea

    Silver Needle Chinese White Tea is grown in Fujian province, hand-picked for only a few days each year and treasured for its exquisite, mellow flavour. Silver Needle is harvested from the Da-bai (Big White) tea tree and consists entirely of unopened leaf buds, which are covered in tiny white hairs. These buds give the tea its name: Baihao Yinzhen, or White Hair Silver Needle. This white tea has gained popularity in recent years due to its high levels of antioxidant polyphenols and in China, Silver Needle is traditionally used to stimulate digestion.

    How to Brew Silver Needle Chinese White Tea

    Silver Needle is a tea with many flavours, which can be explored by experimenting with different brewing methods. To get you started, here are three methods which yield particularly good results.

    Silver Needle buds stand upright in the waterMethod One: First, heat your water to 70 degrees and preheat your pot. If you’re using a regular kettle, turn it off when it’s too hot to touch but well before it boils. Use 2g of tea (about 3 teaspoons) for 200ml of water. Infuse for three minutes and then pour it out, trying not to leave any water in the pot. The pale yellow liquor has a fresh, fragrant aroma and an elegant, mellow flavour reminiscent of lilac, fresh hay and sugarsnap peas. The mouthfeel is smooth with no astringency and there is a pleasant, slightly savoury returning flavour. Re-infuse for another three minutes, and if you’re using a glass teapot you’ll notice the buds begin to stand upright in the pot. If you don’t have a glass teapot, try using a tall drinking glass instead. With the second infusion, we really get the benefit of the tender young buds. The fresh, floral notes soften and the delicate, sweet side of the tea begins to take over. If you let the tea linger on your tongue for a few moments you’ll notice a velvety mouthfeel and a much sweeter returning flavour. This is perhaps the high point of Silver Needle and makes it a great tea to relax with. The third infusion is particularly soft and subtle, and retains its flavour surprisingly well. If you infuse a fourth time, it’s worth increasing the infusion time to four or five minutes.


    Method Two: For a fuller, slightly less delicate flavour, use 4g of tea (about four generous teaspoons) and steep for five minutes. Notes of honeydew melon and pear bring out a mellow, fruity side of the tea which lasts well into the fourth infusion.

    Method Three: Place four teaspoons of Silver Needle into 200ml of cold water and put it in the fridge for one hour. The result is an invigorating drink that provides a mild, creamy flavour with floral overtones and hints of elderflower and cucumber. If you look closely at your glass you’ll see the tiny white hairs which give this tea its name and its exceptional flavour.

    Silver Needle exemplifies everything that is great about white tea. It undergoes very little processing and doesn’t call for any special teaware. Its long steeping time and alluring appearance make it easy and relaxing to brew. The combination of fragrant aroma, delicate flavour and silky mouthfeel produces a wonderfully soothing drink. All of these elements come together to create an elegant, tranquil character. Silver Needle is a tea to drink somewhere quiet while you unwind. It’s also ideal for anyone who’s new to Chinese tea but wants to try something special.

    More Chinese White Teas

    If you enjoyed the sweet, delicate side to Silver Needle, our Moonlight White takes things one step further. If you preferred the fuller, fruitier infusion, our Pai Mu Dan might be just the thing. Like Silver Needle, it’s a product of the Da-bai cultivar, but this white tea uses a combination of leaves and buds to achieve something quite different.

    Jon Cooper

    Jon Cooper

    Founder & co-owner PekoeTea Edinburgh