Jasmine Silver Needle Tea, Loose-Leaf, from Wegmans in album tea

In Albums: tea

Silvery downy tips of tea

Feb 27th, 2013, by Alex Zorach

This photo shows loose-leaf jasmine silver needle tea, sold by Wegmans supermarket for around $80 a pound. You can read my review of this tea on RateTea.

This tea is a subtle variant on standard jasmine tea, which is usually made from a mellow Chinese green tea, or sometimes a pouchong / bao zhong (very green oolong) base tea. Silver needle tea (bai hao yinzhen) is a high grade of white tea, made exclusively from the downy tips of the tea plant. It tends to have a very mild flavor and aroma; the aroma is often described as floral and melon-like. When used as a base for jasmine tea, silver needle produces a cup that is much more dominated by the jasmine aroma, with a weaker tea presence, but at the same time the base tea's natural aroma also blends more seamlessly with the jasmine scenting.

This close-up photo clearly shows the downy white hairs coating the tips. This characteristic is evident on most silver needle tea, and also on some higher-grade bai mu dan (white peony) tea when it also contains tips. Because the tips are higher in caffeine, this tea tends to be higher in caffeine by dry weight of tea leaf used, but because it produces such a mild flavor, its caffeine content can be even higher, when comparing teas of similar flavor strength.