Silver Needle Chinese white tea is one of the most popular white teas. It’s not uncommon to find it in many tea shops around the world. But, do all of them deserve to be called tea?
Name: Silver Needle
Tea Vendor: Čajevi.hr
Type: Chinese white tea
Other Names: Bai Hao Yin Zhen, Yin Zhen
Silver Needle Chinese white tea – description
50 grams of this tea costs 69 HRK (around 10.50 USD). This is extremely high price for Croatian tea market and especially for a tea that comes without any description. All we know about this tea is its name, no harvest date, no place of origin, no nothing. Just simple name – Silver Needle. Silver Needle is produced in many places around China and of many different qualities.
As soon as I’ve opened the bag, I could feel the strange aroma. Deep and stifling aroma under which I could smell some sweetness. There is absolutely no freshness in dry leaves. They do have many buds, they feel more silky to the touch, heavy, stiff and coarse. They are darker green and white and yellow and brown color. There are almost no broken tea leaves in there. Compared with the previous Silver Needle I’ve reviewed, this one has no fluffy appearance and feel, and not so many white hairs. Buds look like someone peeled hairs off of them.
I would never brew this tea like the seller suggests – 13 grams of tea, 1 litre of water, temperature 75-80 degrees Celsius, 3-5 minutes. To use tea that is so expensive for our market would be an extremely reckless act. The point of drinking tea should be relaxation and enjoyment, feeling of happiness while watching the leaves but also being able to experience all the nuances of taste and smell, enjoyment in the process of preparation, and allowing yourself time for this small ritual. Why they have suggest this kind of brewing becomes evident after placing tea leaves in a heated teapot.
I brewed this tea same as I did yesterday. That gave me a better perspective for being truly honest in this review. 45, 60, 120 seconds. I skipped 90 seconds due to the obvious reason – the lack of taste. Temperature was 80 degrees Celsius.
In a heated teapot then get extremely repulsive smell – sourly sweet, smoked and very suffocating and heavy. There is not even a little trace of freshness, not even those light green notes or the smell of fresh (or even old) hay. Only the smell of badly stored low-quality tea leaves. After the first steeping they get dark green and brown. Liquor is pale, yellow-brown and taste is completely absent. Like warm water with traces of damp old paper. Well, the second steeping changes that. Taste becomes so terrible that I immediately poured it into the sink. Color was much darker yellow-brown. Fusty musty tea – this is the best description of the taste of Silver Needle Chinese white tea from this tea vendor. This second steeping does leave some sweet aftertaste, which covers the initial bad experience only a little. Third steeping results in a brew similar to previous one, but in much milder version. I had the urge to compare used leaves from yesterday with the ones from today. Yesterday’s tea still have a really beautiful fresh smell, while this one has heavy smell of sour moldy old tea leaves.
Silver Needle Chinese white tea from tea vendor Čajevi.hr gave me one really bad experience. I have to admit that I secretly hoped that this tea would be a nice one. Even those really bad versions of Silver Needle from eBay (50 grams for a buck) still offer much more enjoyment than this one. I live for the day when bad teas like this won’t be advertised as exceptional and rare, and won’t even be sold.
Really bad tea, which is not worth even a tenth of its price. Poor storage and old leaves, stale heavy smell full of moist certainly doesn't deserve the name Silver Needle. Tea leaves can be used exactly once to get any taste out of it. But, you really don't want to do even one steeping. The reason that I gave two points for leaves is because they actually do consist of buds.