I ordered a sample of Chinese Silver Needle white tea from Harney and Sons and seeing how this was my first foray into white tea (other than a bag of Twinings white that I had years ago), I thought I would write about it. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I can say that I was not disappointed. I will have to stock some of this in the future.
Silver Needle appears to be all buds and no leaves and they are all covered with the little white downy hairs that young leaves and buds tend to have, which I believe is a hallmark of white tea.
So, how is white tea different from other types of tea? A quick internet search reveals that white tea is picked and dried, and that’s it. The leaves are usually air or sun dried but can be heated at a low temperature to speed up the process, but there is no oxidation that occurs and there is no rolling. So this is about as minimal as processing tea can get.
I brewed about 5 grams in a gaiwan with 190F water. First infusion was 20 seconds with each subsequent infusion adding 10 seconds, for a total of 5 infusions.
It appears I didn’t get a picture of the 5th infusion, but this tea really didn’t change much at all between infusions. The liquor may have gotten a tiny bit darker but really very minimal. The same goes for the taste too. This tea had a consistent flavor throughout the session and that was kind of nice for a change.
The texture on this tea is very dry but it’s also quite refreshing. It was also quite light and had a pronounced sweet flavor. I want to say similar to cantaloupe, light a light fruity sweetness. There were also notes of grass, but not like a deep green grass like you can get in some green teas, it was more a dry summer grass. I know grass isn’t the most flavorful sounding thing to drink, but I quite liked this tea overall and it was enjoyable.
The price on this one is $18.00 for a 2 oz. (56g) tin and $110 for a 1 lb (453 g) bag. That is approaching pretty expensive territory, so I wouldn’t consider this one a daily drinker, but it is worth having in the stash for rare occasions when you want something different.
Overall, this tea was quite good and I enjoyed it the whole time. There was no bitterness at all and hardly any astringency. It was a pleasant brew and I look forward to stashing it again in the future.