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Chinese Silver Needle

Tea type
White Tea
Ingredients
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Flavors
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Caffeine
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Edit tea info Last updated by Jason
Average preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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8 Tasting Notes View all

  • “I'm a big fan of white tea, so I couldn't wait to try Harney's version of silver needle. This is actually my first silver needle (everything else has been white peony/bai mu dan, which is...” Read full tasting note
    58
    teaplz 186 tasting notes
  • “I certainly wasn't expecting this to be as vegetal (reasonably "strong" bok choy note) as it turned out to be. I'm used to [naturally] sweeter white tea's I suppose. The liquor was very light...” Read full tasting note
    79
    Starfish 86 tasting notes
  • “Switching to white tea now, given the hour. Steeping this at the time and temp in the H&S tasting note. Beautiful, long, feathery silvery/green needles. They look like they'd be soft to the...” Read full tasting note
    85
    __Morgana__ 939 tasting notes
  • “This is one of the most beautiful teas I have seen. The soft dry leaves are so pretty. The aroma is very light but the flavor is amazing. Soft notes of melon, peach, and honey. I can catch some...” Read full tasting note
    96
    kalmal 746 tasting notes

From Harney & Sons

This is the original White Tea with just large buds. This flavor is a little more vegetal than other white teas. While China has been producing white tea for some time, it is only recently that other countries have learned from the master.

About Harney & Sons View company

Since 1983 Harney & Sons has been the source for fine teas. We travel the globe to find the best teas and accept only the exceptional. We put our years of experience to work to bring you the best Single-Estate teas, and blends beyond compare.

8 Tasting Notes

58
186 tasting notes

I’m a big fan of white tea, so I couldn’t wait to try Harney’s version of silver needle. This is actually my first silver needle (everything else has been white peony/bai mu dan, which is absolutely delicious), so I was REALLY psyched to steep this up.

I used a heaping tablespoon in ~6 oz. of water, but I had to stop to admire the leaves. HOW pretty. The sample I received from Harney was full of unbroken, beautiful needles. So downy and soft and fluffy! And a beautiful silvery down over bright green. Gorgeous. The smell was a bit woodsy and vegetal. I’ve learned that whites aren’t exactly the best-smelling teas.

I anxiously awaited the steep. If you want something that unfurls and dances around in the pot, then this isn’t for you. The leaves barely budge. But still. Gorgeous. The infusion that came from the pour was a light yellow, a very pretty white color. And the smell coming off of the liquid was similar to the dry, but more concentrated. Very woodsy, a hint of sweetness, an a lot of planty goodness.

On the first sip, I was pretty disappointed. This lacked a lot of depth of flavor that I’ve experienced with other whites. And I really do enjoy subtle notes. But this one was mostly vegetal. As Steepster’s description says, this is definitely the most vegetal white I’ve ever had. It almost tastes like edamame, or the water that would result after boiling some of those nom-worthy beans. Edamame tastes wonderful, but I’m not sure I want my tea to taste like that. It’s nearly savory, in a very bizarre way.

There’s not much sweetness hitting the palate, which is a shame. That nectar-like love from white tea is one of my favorite things about it.

There are plenty of better whites out there. Samovar’s Bai Mu Dan, for starters, has to be one of the best whites I’ve ever had. I’m sure there are better silver needles out there as well, that will give me the sweet and yummy cup that I so crave.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 30 sec
Bethany

It’s funny how widely Silver Needles vary. I love Adagio’s, which tastes very true to the general Silver Needle description (somewhat sweet, somewhat vegetal, very buttery). Rishi’s definitely was more vegetal and not as smooth.

takgoti

Awww, dagger.

teaplz

Yeah, I’m trying to figure out if it has to do with water temperature, amount of leaf, etc. Silver Needle is extremely finicky! White Peony/Bai Mu Dan is much more consistent.

Ricky

Adagio’s silver needle requires a lot of time. What I generally do is pour out tea at intervals to test it. I mean you are using the IngenuiTea, so you can just place it on top of a cup and test a little. I usually do 1/2 of a cup at a certain interval, take a few sip if it’s delicious I pour the remaining out. If it’s bland, I wait a bit longer and then pour it out. If the flavors go weird…. I try mixing the two.

Bethany

Ricky, how long do you usually end up steeping Adagio’s Silver Needle in total? I’ve been using their 7 minute guideline and it turns out delicious.

Ricky

Seven minutes just as you have. I tried three before and it was a bit bland.

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79
86 tasting notes

I certainly wasn’t expecting this to be as vegetal (reasonably “strong” bok choy note) as it turned out to be. I’m used to [naturally] sweeter white tea’s I suppose. The liquor was very light even when steeped for 3 minutes, like water. Not something I’d keep in stock as I much prefer Teavivre’s Silver Needle, but interesting nonetheless.

Edit: The second steeping of this was way better, for my taste buds anyway. The vegetal flavour is more balanced and a little of the sweetness I’ve come to know with white tea’s has come out. The man (who isn’t a fan of tea…yet!) took his usual cautionary sip, then 3 gulps followed by a sigh and a “I could get used to this”. Hooray for progress!

Edit 2: Third steep was just like drinking hot water – nothing there.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 45 sec

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85
939 tasting notes

Switching to white tea now, given the hour. Steeping this at the time and temp in the H&S tasting note.

Beautiful, long, feathery silvery/green needles. They look like they’d be soft to the touch. I’m using the entire sample packet. It measured out to about 1.5 cups worth of tea. The dry leaves have that earthy, watery, airy scent that white tea seems to have to me. Essentially all the alchemical elements except fire.

The liquor is… white? Clear? (Did I use too much water in the Breville? Or do it blame it on my clear glass tasting cup?) It has a very faint floral aroma. The sort of smell you admire on a friend who has used just the right amount of perfume. I think it must be the honeysuckle I’m smelling, as it doesn’t seem jasmine to me. In any case, it’s divine.

There is flavor here, but you have to be patient. It’s sort of the same reaction I had to the GM Snow Sprout. At first it’s like there’s nothing there, but then, all of a sudden, there is. There’s sweetness, of the sort that reminds me of the nectar that I used to suck out of the ends of shrimp plant flowers as a kid but not as strong. There’s a floral flavor note that carries the honeysuckle from the aroma into the mouth. And there’s a tail of a slight vegetal bitterness, not at all unpleasant, just the sort you’d find in the bok choy of the H&S description, but mediated quite successfully by the sweetness of the tea.

Not recommended for those who prefer strong flavors in teas. I generally prefer strong flavors but I’m always amazed by how an extremely subtle tea can also grab me and I can like it just as much as the deepest smoky tea. I guess that probably says something about my personality but I’m not gonna dwell on it.

I think I’ll resteep this instead.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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96
746 tasting notes

This is one of the most beautiful teas I have seen. The soft dry leaves are so pretty. The aroma is very light but the flavor is amazing. Soft notes of melon, peach, and honey. I can catch some slight vegetal notes but mostly a sweet, ripe honeydew flavor. I’m actually surprised with how sweet this is. Definitely one of the better whites I have had.

Edit: The second steep is still super sweet and almost reminds me of cotton candy. I’m not complaining of course :] MMMMMM

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91
157 tasting notes

Also known as Yin Zhen, this tea smells of wet, sweet hay with a glaze of sugar, sweet like cotton candy. Light floral high notes of honeysuckle and jasmine add quite the finish. Though it sometimes begins tasting only of water, it quickly blooms in the mouth to show a light sugar sweetness, dulled with gentle vegetal flavors of steamed bok choy (mmm).

Yin Zhen is widely considered the best white tea in the world. Although it is expensive, it merits its price. It comes from a beautiful corner of the Fujian province whose hills and valleys are carpeted with gorgeous tea gardens. The best Yin hen comes form the coastal counties of Fuding and neighborng Zheng He, whose mountains are steep but not high. Yin Zhen’s silver tips grow on the Da Bai (big white) tea tree, whose name aptly describes the plant’s large buds. The Da Bai plant forms fat buds, thickly coated with down. The plants need time to create these big buds, so the Yin Zhen harvest starts later than in adjacent green tea areas.

The buds are painstakingly picked by hand. In the spring, int he mornings after the dew has dried, the hills can be seen dotted with harvesters. Typical of the variation within many Chinese teas, every Yin Zhen maker makes this tea a little differently. Some tea makers dry the buds on tarps in the sun, others dry them on wooden slats in the shade, and still others lay them out on racks in temperature controlled rooms. A few Yin Zhen makers lightly fire the teas after drying them, giving their teas the faint “heat” flavors of lightly toasted white bread.

Yin Zhen is just as charming for the way it brews. It’s worth steeping this tea in a glass vessel to watch the steeping process. Instead of pouring the water of the buds, scatter the buds over the surface of the water. Sometimes the buds will fall right to the bottom, but in the best of times they will float a few moments on the surface, then tip their noses to hang vertically in the water. There they will sway gently before falling to the bottom of the glass. As they unleashed a pale green liquor, the buds themselves will slowly tunr a dark sage green.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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70
328 tasting notes

Fresh tasting with quick shots of sweetness. Subsequent steepings more vegetal but pleasant.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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75
1 tasting notes

3 minutes with water just about coming to the boil. Fresh and clean without being too bright.

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