Experience buying from Art of Tea http://steepster.com/places/3023-art-of-tea-online-santa-cruz-california
Date of Purchase/Amount of Leaf/Date of Steeping: Bought in late 2011, sample of roughly a little over an ounce, steeped up March 2012.
Appearance and Aroma of dry leaf: Standard characteristic silver-needle-looking downy-haired, light green buds; smells almost moldy, but really more like hay (I do not think they are moldy, btw).
Brewing guidelines: Glass Bodum pot, leaf free to roam; stevia added; 3 tsp tea = three 8-OZ cups water:
……….1st: Boiling, 2’; good color, aroma, flavor; it had a very slight bite—or edge to it—which seemed astringent, but I wasn’t for certain; I wasn’t expecting that, but I was OK with it.
……….2nd: 170F, 3’; tasted sweeter and didn’t have that bite I experienced in the First.
……….3rd: 175F, 4’; decent amount of flavor which was similar to the second; good up-front flavor that faded away quickly.
Color and Aroma of tea liquor: a clear light yellow; very mild aroma.
Flavor of tea liquor: I really struggled with how to describe the flavor. It wasn’t vegetal, or floral, or fruity; I was thinking of something like, straw, or barley, maybe even grain-y or malt-y. But none of those descriptors seemed to fit. And then I read Jillian’s review of Adagio’s Silver Needle, “… delicate sweet hay …”. That seemed to be the closest.
Appearance and Aroma of wet leaf: Lots of good-looking green, plump buds; I think they smelled slightly malt-y.
Value: I got this as one of four teas in their white tea sampler, which is still on sale for $19 (I haven’t used the bamboo strainer that came with the sampler, but it’s very cool looking and is proudly displayed in my cupboard); their version of silver needles, on it’s own, is currently $31 / 4 OZ, which is a very reasonable price as these silver needles are organic and Fair Trade Certified.
Overall: After reading on Gignko’s Life in Teacup website that you can steep silver needles at boiling I thought I would give it a whorl. Overall, starting at boiling seemed to yield success, and I don’t think it ‘scorched’ the leaves (quite honestly, I don’t know exactly what ‘scorched’ means, anyway). I stepped the temperature down for the Second and Third per a suggestion I thought I read somewhere (now I am thinking I am mistaken, though). After the Third it was too ‘late’ to do any more steepings. I enjoyed watching most of the buds stand straight up-and-down during the second and third steepings. Silver Needles is not a Tea I would chose to drink very often, but—as I have read in many books on Tea—it certainly is one to be experienced at least once.