Brewing Hints: Brew for up to 5 minutes in water at 75-80C and serve immediately
Leaf: Long, hand-rolled, light green buds
Origin: Fujian, China
Characteristics: A light yellowy liquor and a muted nutty flavour make this tea very pleasant
Serving Suggestions: White tea and milk don’t mix well at all! Drink at any time of day when you require refreshment
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£12.23 – £30.40
This tea is considered a rarity which accounts for its price. Only the finest leaves are plucked in their pre-open phase and then manufactured with a very short oxidisation time followed by a long, slow drying process. This produces a liquor that is most light and delicate with a muted nutty flavour.
One of our rarest and most ethereal teas, Yin Zhen, Bai Hao Yin Zhen or Silver Needle is a delightful white tea from Fujian province.
It is one of the most difficult teas to pluck and produce due to only buds being used, which makes the overall pick very time-consuming for a very low yield of tea. Whilst picking for Yin Zhen care and pride is taken by the pickers and this requires concentration, dexterity and dedication on their part. Once picked the buds lie in baskets and are withered by the sun for up to 18 hours.
From a production point of view, this can cause difficulties when the capricious Chinese spring weather blows a small squall. Some producers take steps to avoid this by withering indoors, although the traditional way is to dry in the sunshine. After withering, the softened buds are piled up, which exerts pressure on the slightly dehydrated cells within the buds and a gentle, natural oxidation occurs. This is NOT to be confused with fermentation.
The skill of the tea maker is in assessing (often without scientific equipment and by gut feeling) when the buds are ready for drying. Once the tea-maker has decided the buds are ready, they are baked in an oven at a fairly low temperature to dry them and remove any remaining available water. The downy white hairs that were on the bud at the time of picking, due to the buds immaturity still remain on the finished leaves which is where the designation white tea comes from.
There are two varietals of tea plant used to make Yin Zhen. Ours is the Fuding Da Bai (or Dai Bai) which produces a very light, gentle-tasting tea. The alternative varietal is called Zhenghe Da Bai (or Dai Bai) which produces a much darker tea and differs in its production process by being oxidised for almost twice the length of time used for the Fuding varietal.
Preparation of this tea with its beautifully clean and bright, gently yellow liquor, is recommended with a brewing time of up to 5 minutes with a generous dosing of tea. The water used will ideally be hot (around 75-80C) but certainly not boiling.
This tea cannot be described as strong, it has a delicate ethereal, hay-like sweet flavour and is a perfect tea to take off the edge at the end of a busy day, when you finally sink into your favourite chair and the house is quiet.
Quite rightly Baihao Yinzhen, Silver Needle or Yinzhen is regularly included in China’s coveted list of famous teas.
If you like Jasmine flavoured tea, you may like to try our Jasmine Yin Zhen Tea, Jasmine scented shoots give this tea its divine flavour.