Chinese Silver Needle (Yin Zhen) is widely considered the best white tea in the world. It is a beauty to behold with all the fuzzy tea buds. The light brew is a subtle and slightly sweet delight.
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In the northeastern corner of the Fujian Province of China, is the coastal city of Fuding. This the hometown of white tea. It was here that white tea was commercialized. In the hills outside of Fuding, the fields are full of the special tea cultivar called Da Bei or Big White. The name is apt. These tea plants form fat buds, thickly coated with down. After the buds are painstakingly plucked by hand, most teamakers put the buds in a barn and let them slowly dry out. This subtly sweet tea can be appreciated in a cup or you can drink it like the Chinese and float a spoonful into a clear glass of hot water. Watch the buds slowly sink in the water; it can be very therapeutic.
There are no dry leaves in this tea, but rather the buds of the tea plant. The plant stockpiles goodness into the bud, for it is the plant's future. Inside the tiny silver needle is extra sugars, antioxidants, and even extra caffeine. The downy fuzz is made up of tricomes which help the immature bud to survive this cold cruel world.
Since there are no leaves, the liquor is a very pale yellow green, with sometimes a rose cast to it. The color may darken if the needle spent some extra time before it dried out. There might be a bit of oxidation occurring.
The aromas are light and might be overlooked. However, one can smell light sweetness mixed subtle vegetal notes, like wet sweet hay or cotton candy. There are also light floral notes of honeysuckle.
Silver Needle may have more body than other whites, but it is quite thin in comparison to most green or black teas.
If you are not paying attention, you might think you are drinking water. However, a bit of concentration brings out the light subtle sweetness, dulled with gentle vegetal flavors of steamed bok choy.