Many thanks to Angel and Teavivre for this generous sample!
My first experience with this tea was disappointing, I’m sorry to say. Jasmine teas are generally too strong for me, as I’m really sensitive to potent, perfume-y smells. I prepared it with the expectation that it was a scented tea and was blown away by the jasmine. A headache ensued, and I was not able to get through very many steeps. This was mostly error on my part which I discovered when inspecting the wet leaves. Jasmine flowers are mixed in with the tea leaves…Ahh no wonder. After that experience, I put the tea away for a while and let it rest.
After my nice experience with Pekko Teas’ Jasmine Dragon Tears, my confidence with jasmine teas was renewed. I gave the jasmine silver needle another shot and altered my methods. I went with cooler water (~160 F), maybe a bit less dry leaf (~1/3 100mL gaiwan), and ultra short steeps (one second for first steep, added one second for each successive steep, then three-five additional seconds each steep after the sixth). It turned out to work much better for me. The flavor was much more delicate, the mouthfeel became less syrupy and instead creamy. I was also able to pick up many more subtler nuances than I did the first time I tried this tea. Most notably this occurred with the first and second steeps which developed honey textures and a light whipped cream undertone, developing into something more savory into the next steeps. The “greener” flavors were more noticeable and tasted like fresh vegetables.
Into the fifth steep, a very faint, but intriguing, spicy note climbed up. It had the flavor of parsley and the texture of ground black pepper. Also in this steep, further heavy tastes became apparent, pulling the flavor profile together and giving the liquor a fuller body and thicker mouthfeel with the addition of a stone flavor and increased vegetal taste. Honey notes reached a minimum here, and rose again throughout consecutive steeps. After this point, the tea reached a balanced point in which jasmine flavors decreased to midtones, vegetal, savory, and fresh green flavors became most prominent, and stone flavors settled into undertones. These remained fairly constant and faded out together while jasmine notes slowly slipped away.
The leaves smell extremely potent to me especially during the first few steeps. In later steeps, this settles some and I am able to detect sweeter notes, and some stone aromas. The aroma of the liquor is syrupy, sometimes medicine like, although it is very floral with notes of fresh hay.
Conclusions: I’m a stickler with jasmine. However, going with my new method definitely changed my opinion of this tea and made it a great deal more palatable for me. The actual silver needle white tea has some very intriguing complexities to it, but they seem to be masked by the jasmine flavoring when using the suggested methods.