Sunday, March 4, 2012
A Cup of Silver Needles
Heavens own gift to our lonely little world, a gift bestowed worthy of the gods themselves! Silver Needles! Its a white tea and unlike other teas has a truely unique characteristics and as much divinity in them than the usual run of the mill teas that everybody nowadays seems to enjoy. A testament to the Chinese mastery of tea and expert cultivation, it has created a light but crisp tea, with very little caffeine and composed of straightened buds and young shoots hence the "needle' in Silver Needle. The tea itself has few bells and whistles which to any who has not yet acquired a taste for the leaf will soon question: why its not black, sugary, or perfumed and adorned with cornflowers and kitchen sink? Its purity plain and simple which is processed in batches with few buds and young shoots, dried and steamed with nothing added. The tea has then captured the essence of youth in the aroma, feel, and taste of the tea for whom desires a light, delicate and flavorful tea.
This particular type of white tea known in Chinese as Bin Hao Yinzhen or white down hair silver needle for its minute white hairs that gives its silvery like in contrast being a light green color. Its leaves being fuller and fleshier than other teas in comparison , hence younger and lighter in taste when brewed, and an aroma of grass, hay, and fruits brings much appeal to an awaiting drinker. Brewing this tea shows much of the famed quality of Silver Needles, the tea itself is entirely composed of young downy leafy shoots that has not yet opened and will not even unfurl during steeping. Its like no matter how much a drinker tortures the leaves out of flavor, its integrity and shape still holds true that shows the youthfulness of the leaves meticulously picked for the drinker's pleasure!
Beautiful isn't it! Youth, the crispness of youth, the lively and delicate nature of young shoots that makes this tea ever so magical and special! These shoots have not even unfurled yet, even in repeated steeps I have to actually open up the shoots into a beautiful bud with tiny leaves. The leaves themselves are quite resilient and does not even fall apart when handled or applied with little pressure,owing to true quality of the tea that is an important indicator to gauge a quality of leaves. What more is needed...or expected out of Silver Needles?!
Versatility: 70; not much can go wrong with experimenting with Silver Needles, it can take in many flavors as well get overtaken! The tea after all , is quite light and delicate and has few variations in actually drinking it be it hot, cold, or slightly sweetened and flavored. Drinking it hot gives off most of the flavors and when it cools to room temperature almost of all of the essence of the tea is in the liquor while having it cold can be mute if not very watery as lower temperatures masks most of the flavors out till it rises to room temperature. Now, Silver Needles can be blended with flavors, but its best with blending with fruits and having it slightly sweet or not at all as it can mask if not wreck the true flavors of the tea which is not only costly and wasteful for a tea to be drunk solely for itself but a questionable behavior indeed!
Tastes: 88; its a tea that can get really close to a heaven itself which is another factor in investing two ounces of this stuff from Teavana! Really grassy, hay-ish, and fruity on the first brew and much lighter and mute on the multiple steeps nut carries more hay-ish and tannic profile. A must for the connoisseur or anyone seeking a delicate light tea, but certainly easily beloved by all.
Palate: Smooth as the snow, soft like a feathery down pillow, and lovingly sweet like a cornucopia! But can be tannic and the end but in the most slight cases with a non-existent astringency in every including the 2nd and mulitple brews afterwords.
Drinker Friendliness: 6.5; its not a tea for those looking to get a fix, something sugary and filled with useless flavors all the while being cheap and utilitarian. But anyone who loves drinking a slightly flavored water, loves grassy, hay, and fruity notes, and enjoys tea all around then I say its a drink anyone could get used to and love!
Ambrosia and heaven in a mug! Silver Needles is the very embodiment of youth, the crispness of life and youth, and the fragile crop that is tea! Its an warm, soft, smooth, and easily favorable tea to all palates , with as much potential to take in flavors but at the same time lose flavors due to over blending and butchering it with uber boiling water. Treat it fairly, have the right cup, sip some of the most decadent and masterful works of tea and just admire the ambrosia of Silver Needles!