This is the white tea most are familiar with, but this long-leaf version is more unusual and packs a slightly stronger flavor than its shorter leafed counterpart.
Silver Needle, or Baihao Yinzhen, is the finest of all white teas, and it’s quite possibly the most carefully produced tea in the world. Only the youngest shoots are delicately plucked for this tea, and they are parched almost immediately to stop all oxidation of the leaves. On top of that only the softest, fuzzy leaves are used. This is a very delicate, focused, and time-consuming style of production. The result is a unique flavor that is unmatched in all the world of tea.
Silver Needle is often described as a softer tea. We don’t find it to be that, exactly. Because of the nature of white teas, they tend to be on the stronger side, and they require careful infusion and proper storage to avoid the natural bitterness of fresh tea leaves. Silver Needle requires either a very short steep in cooler water or a very small amount of tea in a larger amount of water. But when properly infused Silver Needle is more than a drink, it’s an experience.
As you may have learned, white tea is the closest to a raw tea leaf. White tea is sun dried (or sun bleached), parched, (or steamed), and dehydrated almost immediately after plucking. The timing is crucial, and the window to produce the perfect tea is quite small. Unlike wulong or black teas, white tea producers are careful not to bruise the leaves and expose the inner leaf to oxidation. This is what makes a white tea different from the rest and so subtle in flavor. What many don’t realize is that most white teas aren’t actually white in color! Only a handful of the white teas that are produced have a white color to them, and that’s only because the style favors the fine hairy buds. If not for careful selection of those fine buds, all white teas would look like a natural green tea leaf. If you’ve ever been to a tea plantation and looked closely at the plants, you would have seen that finding the fine, white, fuzzy buds is quite challenging. So you can imagine how labor-intensive fine tea production really is!