Fuding County, Fujian Province, China
Bai Hao Silver Needles
1st Harvesting Season
(end of March - April 5th)
- White tea
- Fuding County, Fujian Province, China
- Withered & slightly oxidized
- Extra-large spear-shaped buds
- Woods-y, twigg-y, honey-like flavor
- Fresh ‘black tea’ aroma
- Pale liquor tinged with silver
Use 1.25 Tablespoons (2-3 grams) per 6 oz of water
Steep several infusions at 2 - 5 minutes each.
Water temperature should be 160° - 170° F
In a typical year, the pluck time for Yin Zhen is mid- March, putting it in the early part of the pre-Qing Ming plucking season. As Yin Zhen is the smallest of the white tea crops, this leaves ample time for the tea workers to get to the business of producing the white teas that are combinations of bud and leaf.
Yin Zhen is very reliant on the early spring season's weather conditions for the plump-ness and juicy-ness of the buds. This year the weather was co-operative, and our 2015 Yin Zhen is fat with strong, dense buds.
It is wood-sy, twigg-y, outdoor-sy, a little green bean-y and has a mild honey-like sweetness. It is not floral. It is a lovely light showing of the effects of withering. The tea liquor has a richness and fullness that may be from more amino acids in the buds this year. White teas, because of the light oxidation they undergo, have a hit of the flavor of a mild black tea but without sharpness or astringency. This tea is smooth with a hit of honey in the flavor.
Yin Zhen is distinctive in taste and appearance. These unopened, medium-sized buds are nicely shaped and have the characteristic silvery hue and a covering of white hairy down. If you look closely, you will notice that beneath their down jacket the buds are still greenish.
At one time Yin Zhen was the only white tea that was made in China. Today of course, other white teas incorporating both leaf and bud are made, but Yin Zhen remains the king of white teas.
Authentic Fujian white tea is plucked from five tea bush cultivars that grow in and are unique to three restricted counties of northern Fujian: Fuding, Zhenghe, and JIan Yang. Our Yin Zhen is from Fuding which is the oldest and original area for cultivation and production of Yin Zhen. It is made from the the Fuding Dai Bai or Big White sub-variety of Camellia sinensis.
Bob prefers to drink his Yin Zhen as our Chinese colleagues do - after it has 'rested' and matured for several months (or even a year or more); while Mary Lou enjoys Yin Zhen that is younger, because she likes the energy and vegetal flavor of a recently-harvested Yin Zhen.
One of the highlights of our trip to Fujian Province several years ago was spending a few hours walking down the rows of a tea garden filled with healthy Fuding Dai Bai tea plants and watching the tea pluckers do their work. Later, in the tea factory we visited the indoor withering racks and received a lesson on the production methods of white tea. This tea brings those memories right back into the forefront of our mind's eye.
Because our 2015 Yin Zhen buds are dense and plump we tried infusing them for longer periods of time. In fact, any steep between 2-5 minutes is fine for this tea. These buds seem to need a longer steep to soften. Re-steep as many times as you find there is still flavor.
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