Tea: Silver Needle (Yinzhen)
Type: Fuding White Tea
Harvest: Spring 2023
Region: Panxi, Fuding, Fujian
Producers: Yuanming Tea Garden
Tasting notes: baked doughnut, honeysuckle, roasted peanut, sweetgrass, cream
Silver Needle is one of our all-time favorite teas, but not a tea we would recommend to beginners. The beauty in this tea is in its subtlety, its consistency, and in its unmistakable Chaqi. A session with this tea is conducive to a quiet, blissful mood, rather than an edge-of-the-seat rollercoaster experience one would get with a Dancong Oolong or young raw puer tea. The Silver Needle has always been one of the most refined, exquisite, and alas, expensive teas available in the Chinese tea market, but one session with this excellently sourced tea should show you exactly why this is.
The dry leaves give off a heavy and savory nutty aroma backboned by its green vegetation, which when warmed releases sugary notes redolent of baked doughnuts and sweet overtones of honeysuckle. When brewed, the leaves exude a rich and thick roasted peanut fragrance mixed with a little bit of sweetgrass. The leaf aroma is anything but subtle!
The brew is a pale yellow gold thick with tea down. On the tongue this tea is thick, but modest, in Chinese they use the term 奶香 or cream flavor to describe a tea like this, and all the while the sweet honeysuckle remains present as a dominant flavor. Around the third or fourth infusion, the vegetation returns thickening up the mouthfeel and giving a boost of sweet pea flower fragrance to the cup.
This years pick of Silver Needle is incredibly consistent and very early. The buds are all very small, only a few centimeters in length, and as Qiu usually does, he has decided to leave the “scale leaf” attached to the bud. This in his opinion (and ours!) creates a slightly sweeter Silver Needle than the pure bud versions.