If you’re a tea afficionado, you may be familiar with white tea, but have you heard of the tea that’s been called ‘elegance in a cup’?
Silver Needle White Tea is one the most prized teas in the world – it’s only harvested on two days of the year – and an amazing amount of care if taken to ensure that the tea produced from each harvest is absolutely perfect.
What is Silver Needle Tea?
Also known as Baihao Yinzhen, White Hair Silver Needle and White Pekoe Silver Needle, Silver Needle White Tea comes from the Camellia Sinensis plant. Before the leaves open the buds are harvested to produce white tea. These buds are covered in fine white hairs, which is where the name Silver Needle comes from.
Green tea, black tea and oolong tea are also harvested from this plant – the differences being the development stage the leaves are at when they are harvested, the region in which the plants are grown and the production process of the leaves.
White tea, harvested when the leaves are at their youngest and most delicate, is a subtly flavoured, pale yellow tea. Its aroma is said to be like wildflowers and honey.
Due to the production process, Silver Needle Tea is considered ‘unoxidised’ Oxidisation happens when tea leaves are broken so the silver needle tea needs to be processed with extreme care to make sure that the buds remain whole. The tea is produced by laying the buds out to ‘wither’ (preferably in the sunshine, though indoor drying does happen if weather doesn’t permit). Once withered, the buds are then baked gently at low temperature before being ready to be used.
Silver Needle White Tea contains more caffeine than other teas (though still less than coffee), and also has L-Theanine, which works in combination with the caffeine to help you feel awake and alert without leaving you jittery and wide awake all night.
Benefits of Silver Needle Tea
Heart health – white tea is loaded with antioxidants which have shown to help lower LDL cholesterol (the bad one). Catechins can help lower blood pressure and improve circulation.
Headaches – compounds present in the tea improve circulation and oxygen supply to the brain, so it can help with headaches and also with minor aches and pains.
Digestive aid – Silver Needle Tea can help you absorb nutrients more easily and can speed up metabolism, leading to better digestion and possibly even aiding with weight loss.
May help regulate blood sugar levels – those catechins that are present in white tea (along with other antioxidants) have been show to help regulate blood sugar levels by blocking the production of amylase, an enzyme that triggers glucose breaks starches down into sugars, leading to spikes in blood sugar levels.
Anti-inflammatory – catechins and polyphenols are known anti-inflammatories, and Silver Needle White Tea is loaded with these, meaning it may help to ease symptoms of inflammation for some people.
Oral health – fluorides, tannins and flavonoids are all found in Silver Needle White Tea, and are all renowned for their impact on oral health. And as it’s a naturally sugar-free beverage, sipping on it during the day isn’t going to put your teeth at increased risk of decay like other beverages can.
Hair and skin – Silver Needle White Tea contains epigallocatechin gallate, an antioxidant that’s known to improve hair growth and reduce hair loss. It also contains phenols, which can help boost both collagen and elastin production for healthier hair and skin.
Brewing Silver Needle Tea
Water temperature is critical with this tea – you do not want to ‘cook’ the buds or you’ll end up with bitter tea that’s lost most of its health benefits. Water at 75-80°C is best. Warm your teapot and teacups prior to brewing your tea.
Use 1 ½ – 2 teaspoons of tea per cup and let it steep for 3-5 minutes. Because such care has been taken not to crush the buds during preparation you’re safe to let silver needle tea steep a bit longer than other teas, but you’ll probably want to experiment to see what flavour profile you like best and adjust the times to suit you. You can also re-brew silver needle tea up to three times, so a couple of teaspoons of tea could last you for several pot refills.
Fans of Silver Needle White Tea also recommend using a glass teapot so you can watch the tea brewing. It’s known as ‘dancing tea’ for a reason, and watching it brew is part of the enjoyment of drinking it.
Silver needle tea is best drunk without sugar or milk – adding these to it will ruin the flavour and texture of this most elegant of teas
If your looking for a Pine tea Check out this LINK
It gets better with age
The flavour of this tea is said to improve with age, mellowing and developing a more complex flavour profile. Even better, its health benefits also increase with age. Stored properly, this tea will age beautifully for 2-3 years.