Silver Needle is the treasure of the white tea world, and is well known as one of the highest grades of tea you can find. The appearance of the Silver Needle white tea is a beauty, with straight needle-like buds which are so white they have a silvery tone to them. The bud head is strong and fat, with white tips that are usually covered in a fine white downy hair.
Watching Silver Needle brew can be very beautiful and relaxing. When brewed properly, the color of the brewed tea is a pale yellow to a light apricot color. The flavor of the brewed tea is exquisite, very refreshing, mellow and sweet which makes for a very memorable tea experience. Every tea lover should enjoy Silver Needle white tea at least once!
Silver Needle white tea also has some of the best medicinal effects of any variety of tea. Silver Needle tea can create a cooling effect on your system, as well as holding many anti-oxidants to detoxify your body and prevent harm from toxins, radiation or other pollutants. In Northern China, Silver Needle white tea is used to help urticaria patients as well as to help cure the measles. If you would like to know more about the potential health benefits of tea, please read our article on tea health benefits.
Brewing Silver Needle Tea with a Teapot in the Standard Western Method
Choosing the Ideal Teapot: When choosing a teapot in which to brew your Silver Needle white tea, we highly recommend that you use a clear glass teapot so that you can see the beautiful Silver Needle tea leaves floating and dancing through the water, which is called “Tea Dancing” in China, or “The Agony of the Leaves” in America. By brewing your Silver Needle white tea in a glass teapot, you can fully enjoy the aesthetic experience of your tea as well.
Adding Tea to Your Teapot: Add approximately 2-3 teaspoons of Silver Needle tea into the teapot. Adjust the amount of tea you add to your teapot to create the flavor which you enjoy the most. If you prefer your it stronger, you may wish to add more leaves, or if you prefer a mild brew, you may wish to use less leaves in your brewing.
Add Water to Your Teapot: Silver Needle white tea is best brewed at the same temperature as other white teas, with your water at approximately 80 ºC (180 ºF). Steeping time for your Silver Needle white tea should be between 3-5 minutes to get the full flavor from your tea leaves. As Silver Needle white tea is made solely from the buds (top shoots) of the tea plant, the leaves are very delicate, and adding too hot of water, or boiling water, will scorch and damage the leaves as well as damaging the healthy properties of the leaves. If you use too hot of water, the resulting it will be a dark yellow with a bitter astringent taste, with no nutritional benefit.
Serving Your Silver Needle White Tea: After brewing your Silver Needle white tea, strain the leaves from the teapot and pour the liquor into your individual cup or cups to enjoy the refreshingly light mellow sweet flavor of the Silver Needle white tea.
Flavored Silver Needle White Tea: If you prefer flavored teas instead of plain teas, Silver Needle white tea can be a lovely base for added flavoring if you so choose. Some good ideas to flavor your Silver Needle white tea is to use herbs such as peppermint or lavender, or you can also add honey for a more soothing tea. Blueberry and other fruit flavors work well also, but be sure not to add too much added flavoring or you will easily overwhelm the delicate flavor of the Silver Needle white tea.
Brewing Silver Needle White Tea the Chinese Way, with Gaiwan.
Prepare Your Tea Set: A Chinese tea set can be very elaborate and may include tools such as your tea tray, tea holder, a Gaiwan, fair cup, Pinming cup, a filter cup, shelf and a tea ceremony set which would include a tea pin, tea tongs, tea spoon, tea scoop, tea funnel and a tea container. Once you have gathered the necessary materials to brew your tea, continue to the next step, adding the Silver Needle white tea to your tea holder.
Adding the Dry Silver Needle Tea Leaves: Using your tea scoop, remove approximately 2-3 grams from your tea canister and place the leaves into your tea holder.
Warming and Cleansing Your Cups and Gaiwan: In the Chinese way of brewing tea, it is very important to use boiling water to first warm and cleanse your cups and Gaiwan. Swirl the boiling water around in your Gaiwan and cups to clean and warm them and evaporate the smell of previous teas which have been in your fair cup and Pinming cups. Discard the water you have used to cleanse and warm your cups, this water will not be used to brew your tea.
Casting The Tea: The next step is to cast your tea from your tea holder into your Gaiwan with your tea spoon.
Recovering the Tea: Pour your hot water (approximately 80 degrees Celsius) into the Gaiwan so that the water just covers the leaves. Then pour it into your fair cup, using your tea filter to strain the leaves, then finally pour the brewed liquor into your tea curio. The purpose of recovering tea is to let the tea properly release its full flavor and aroma so that you can enjoy the full benefits of the brewed Silver Needle white tea. The time you use to brew and recover tea can not last too long or you will lose many of the beneficial properties of the tea, the water is usually poured immediately.
Brewing Your Silver Needle White Tea: Pour 80ºC water into the Gaiwan, and wait for approximately 1-2 minutes. Because Silver Needle tea has so many light and delicate buds, if you brew it in too hot of water you will destroy the flavor and beneficial properties of the tea. As Silver Needle tea is a very lightly fermented tea, the tea leaves require a longer brewing time than most teas, up to five minutes.
Serving Your Silver Needle White Tea: To properly serve your Silver Needle White tea in the Chinese method of brewing tea, first pour your brewed tea into the fair cup, filtering the leaves using your tea strainer, then divide the liquor equally into each Pinming cup.
Re-brewing Silver Needle White Tea: Silver Needle white tea is a remarkable tea which can be re-brewed several times. The Silver Needle tea leaves will remain fragrant and delicious even after being brewed for 5 or 6 times. To extract the flavor from the leaves when brewing them multiple times, be sure to add an additional minute to the brewing time each time you re-steep the leaves. This will assure that you get the most flavor, aroma and best health benefits from your Silver Needle white tea leaves.