Meet Our Old Tree Silver Needle Tea
Silver needle white tea is considered by many tea connoisseurs as the ultimate of the commonly available teas. This tea (in it’s modern form) was first developed during the Ming dynasty and is called Silver Needle White Down. (In the West we typically shorten the name to just “Sliver Needle”)
“Silver needle” refers to the shape of the tea. This tea is made of the young tender tea sprouts only. It is neither rolled nor crushed. The tender sprouts are allowed to gently dry in the sun. As they dry they curve slightly and the tips are sharply pointed forming a curved needle shape. I received a review recently from a customer who purchased our silver needle tea and complained that it was nothing but “twigs”. I had to talk him into brewing the tea by phone so he could see that this sharply pointed “twigs” actually open up into beautiful tea leaves!
“White Down” refers to small white or silver hairs that coat these tender leaves. These are, of course not really hair. They are what botanists call, trichomes. On tea plants trichomes serve to protect young shoots from fungus and moisture. They are very delicate and usually fall off during processing. However, since silver needle tea receives almost no processing, the trichomes are still present, coating the dried tea leaves in a soft glistening down. Interestingly, the trichomes fall off when you brew the tea. You will often see them floating on the surface of your newly brewed tea giving the brewed tea an interesting optical effect. I’ve written an entire post on the subject trichomes. You can read it here, https://immortalitea1.myshopify.com/blogs/immortal-musings/140182279-what-is-atrichome
Most silver needle tea is produced in Fuding County of Fujian province. But pollution has become quite a challenge in Fujian. So, I was happy to stumble on this silver needle tea produced in Jinggu county of Yunnan instead from rare white puerh tea trees. These trees are over 400 years old. The produce a very different aroma than most silver needle teas and longer sweeter finish.
The silver needle tea is produced only one time each year from the first Spring harvest. The young buds must be harvested with such care that a skilled picker can only harvest about 1 Lb of raw tea per day. To prevent damage to the delicate buds, the pickers pick a small piece of stem and the bud. Back at the field house, usually sitting on big tarps spread out in the sun, the pickers then carefully separate the bud from the small piece of stem. After drying, the pickers daily harvest results in about 3.5 oz of dried tea.
Silver needle tea should be brewed at low temperature, about 165° F – 170° F for 8 to 10 minutes. The resulting tea is sweet and delicate with notes of honey and apricots. This is definitely a connoisseur’s tea. If you are into black tea, you’ll probably find this tea weak in comparison. But if you prefer a delicate refined tea, this one should be on you must-try list.
As an aside, I see that one of the big tea companies is selling this exact same tea as part of their “Masters” collection for as much as $17/oz. Our regular price for this tea is less than half that. Here's the link if you'd like to give it a try,
Buy Old Tree Silver Needle.