This Silver Needle Jasmine truly came about as a sort of conspiracy between Wang Yanxin, our scout for Yunnan teas, especially fine pu’ers, and Weiwei, Verdant’s employee in China who works with farmers mostly in Laoshan and Anxi.
Both Weiwei and Wang Yanxin have some of the most formidable and discriminating palates in the world. The conspiracy here is that neither of them have any inclination towards jasmine tea at all. When Weiwei and I are drinking tea together with a workshop or farmer, she always asks for a glass of water to discreetly wash the taste out of her mouth when jasmine is served. I would just shake my head. Come on Weiwei, you can find some of the most heady and floral Tieguanyin, but take that profile a bit further towards Jasmine and you wash your mouth out with water?
Wang Yanxin always had a bit of jasmine on hand, and was known for supplying Qingdao with the best jasmine of anyone. One day I asked her if I could buy a bit of her jasmine to take home for family member less inclined towards pu’er than myself. She flat out said no. She said that normal jasmine is not good to drink, and pulled out a variety that cost several hundred dollars a pound. “This is the only one you can have.” Wang Yanxin has a strong will, so I didn’t argue. I tried to pay, but she gave it to me for free. She said that she didn’t want my family drinking anything less.
Keeping this in mind, I imagined a pretty cold reception when I started making inquiries on a jasmine for Verdant Tea. To my surprise, Weiwei said that her and Wang Yanxin had been talking, and they thought they found something that was good. I asked Weiwei if she liked it. She seemed slightly embarrassed to say yes, but admitted that she did. Wang Yanxin pulled her connections to get us a jasmine from Yunnan, made with a silky silver needle white tea. Weiwei approved the scenting.
When I got the first box, and cut open one of the heat-sealed bags, I knew that Wang Yanxin and Weiwei had found something special. Most of the tea-lovers here in Minneapolis that come by Verdant HQ when new shipments get in are pu’er or oolong people. This jasmine seduced pretty much everyone.
The update from Wang Yanxin and Weiwei is that they are now actively scouting more jasmines. In my last shipment, there were over 40 new samples to try. This silver needle variety actually got them excited to drink jasmine. I get jasmine pearls, little blooming teas, twists of scented Huangshan Maofeng, and a large variety of possibilities. While none have yet approached this one for staying power, it is good to know that my friends in China have broadened their horizons.