A few months ago I made an order for tea samples directly from a farmer in China. He sent me samples of almost every kind of tea that is grown in Zhenghe County Fujian Province including Silver Needle or Bai Hao Yin Zhen. I recently made an order with Harney and Sons and when I saw that they had Ceylon Silver Tips available in a sample, I had to have it. I knew then what had to be done – A comparison of silver needle grown in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and one from Fujian Province in China, which is the birthplace of white tea.
I can’t say I’ve ever had a Ceylon tea at all, unless it was blended into a teabag in my early days. I didn’t know what to expect with this one.
I used 4 grams of leaf for each tea in identical glazed gaiwans. I used 195 F water and did infusions of 20, 25, 30, 35 seconds. I increased the temperature to 205 F for the 4th infusion.
I put the dry leaf into the warmed gaiwans and the Fujian had aromas of sweet summer hay while the Ceylon had a spicy chocolate note going on. Okay Ceylon you have my attention!
The first infusion of the Fujian had notes of sweet melon (cantaloupe?) and summer hay with a fairly thick texture and short finish.
The first infusion of the Ceylon made me exclaim out loud even though I was the only person in the room! It was sweet with some tangy spicy-ish notes and the flavor covered my whole tongue right away unlike any tea I have had. It reminded me of chocolate syrup like when you put it on your ice cream. It was thick and coating and sweet. The taste wasn’t chocolate per se, but it felt like chocoloate syrup in my mouth if that makes any sense. The texture was a touch thinner than the Fujian but the finish was long and very sweet.
The second infusion of the Fujian had some nuttiness and vanilla come through, which are what I consider to be classic white tea flavors. Still a summer hay note as well but it felt like it was just lacking a little bit of depth and body.
The Ceylon still had the chocolate syrup thing going on with a touch of summer hay notes as well. It has more texture and body than the Fujian.
Third and fourth infusions didn’t change much. The Fujian still had melon sweetness with vanilla and nuttiness. The finish felt lacking a little bit.
Ceylon still had the chocolate syrup texture with a little bit of the spicy notes coming back around. It still coats the whole tongue and has a nice long sweet finish. My wife came in the room at this point and she tried the Ceylon and said it was “pretty good.” That is high praise as she is not a tea drinker and almost always says “it’s okay.” Ceylon Silver Tips, you officially have the Mrs. Teajourney seal of approval!
Both of these teas are good. The Fujian is pretty good, but that Ceylon is really dang good! I must say I had a bias before this comparison. I though that Chinese teas were superior to Ceylon teas and I really didn’t expect much from the Ceylon. That makes another bias of mine that has been disproven through experimenting. I can’t stress enough how much you can learn from trying things out yourself.
The Fujian was picked in April 2019 in Zhenghe County at an elevation of 1000 meters. It sells for $190 for 500 grams. Thats puts it at $21.28 for 56 grams. 5 infusions per session comes to about $.30 per cup. Not a bad price at all for a Silver Needle.
The Harney and Sons Ceylon currently sells for $30 for 2 oz. (56 g). You can get at least 5 infusions of this tea in a session. 4 grams per session is 14 sessions per tin which is $2.14 per session. 5 infusion per session comes to $.43 per cup. That is on the expensive side for sure, but this tea is a real rare gem if you ask me. Harney and Sons claim exclusivity on this tea as well, so I think that is indeed a good price for this tea. At least get the sample like I did for $4, it’s definitely worth that.
I am inspired to think outside the box a little bit more after this experiment. I hope you are too and I hope you will share any teas you had that really surprised you. I love hearing about those kinds of things. Cheers!