Sunday, July 14, 2013

Meet the Tea: Silver Needle

Silver Needle is one of my favorite kinds of teas. It is produced in the Fujian Province of China. Also known as Baihao Yinzhen, this tea is made only from hand picked buds. Each leaf is covered in downy white hairs. I typically steep it in a glass teapot so that I can watch the leaves dance. You can also use a gaiwan, any standard teapot or even a big mug. I do not recommend using yixing or other kinds of clay pots because these retain too much heat and can scald your tea. Following your tea retailer's directions is a good place to start but your water should be between 165 and 180 degrees.

One of the best things about Silver Needle that is very forgiving when it comes to steeping time. Three to five minutes is usually recommended but you can also steep this tea "grandpa" style. Just throw the leaves in a cup and add water. They won't get bitter, even if left for a long time. Delicate, floral, sweet, vegetal, nutty and biscuity are all descriptors that I've used for this tea. Many beginning tea drinkers struggle with this tea due to its very subtle taste. When you first start out, it may not taste like more than slightly flavored water. Over time as your tea drinking evolves, your palate will change and you will be able to pick up all of those subtle nuances. What's your favorite Silver Needle?

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