Silver Needle arrives in April like clockwork every year. Beautiful leaf buds, sweet water and the aroma of flowers. But this was in no way a typical Spring!
In mid-March, most of the south eastern Chinese Provinces were hit by an early frost that effectively reduced tea production by 80%. Higher end teas saw more of the damage, with production declines by as much as 90%. After the frost, rainfall has also been unrelenting, and when there’s rain, tea production grinds to a halt. The net effect is that teas are harder to come by, and even when they are available, the market price for them is much higher than normal.
White teas from Northern Fujian saw the worst of the price increases. The highest quality whites are harvested before the tea buds have opened. This Spring, the combined market production of Silver Needle from Fuding County is around 3000kgs, representing only two complete harvest days (there was a total of nine complete harvest days in 2009.) Because of this shortage, the wholesale market price for white teas has increased by more than 3 times and most of the Silver Needle on the wholesale market this year is comprised of 70% 2009 stock and only 30% 2010 stock.
The Silver Needle Reserve we are offering this year is comprised entirely of 2010 stock. We acquired 100 kilos (about 3% of full production) and will be offering it for $165 per pound. It is a beautiful tea. Large leaf buds, each beautifully shaped, thick and downy. The resulting brew is also exceptional: sweet, round, floral, creamy. It’s unfortunate that so little of this tea was produced.
Brewing Instructions: Use 1.5 tablespoons (double for a medium sized pot). Rinse tea for 1 second. Discard rinse water. Steep for 1-2 minutes. May be infused multiple times.
Recommended Method: Gaiwan, Teapot, Infuser