Part II of X in a series on classic teas you need to taste
Other names: Yin Zhen
Origin: Fujian Province, but are now also produced in other areas, including Yunnan Province of China, India, Sri Lanka, and Kenya
- Downy buds less than 1 inch in length
- Silvery-green color that are fuzzy with tricomes
- Faint sweet aromas similar to chamomile.
- Wet leaves often appear greener than dry
- A much paler yellow than green teas
- Delicate aromas of clover, fresh cucumber, or bread dough that are nearly undectable
- Little-to-no astringency
- Light brothy texture: a little more than watery
Sounding like something used on the voodoo doll of a werewolf, silver needle is taken from the literal translation of the Chinese “yin zhen.” The silvery aspect comes from the fuzzy hairs or tricomes on the new tea buds. It is believed this fuzz helps protect the bud from hungry insects.
You may hear white teas like silver needle described as being lower in caffeine than its green cousins. Blanket statements about caffeine content often fail to account for variations in the plant’s natural caffeine production and the effects of processing.
As a white tea, silver needle undergoes less processing than other forms of tea. The buds must be gathered hurriedly at their peak, and then dried.
Because of its delicacy, best results from silver needle often come when water temperature is below boiling. When I have time to commit to repeated steeps, I favor using extra leaf and shorter steep times. As you proceed from the initial steep, allow for more time for the needles to release their ambrosia.
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