Last year in October, I went to London for three days and I had to make a stop in Camden Market to visit Mei Leaf’s teahouse. Almost every tea drinker has heard from it but not every one is a big fan for various reasons. I’ve had teas from them before and they have never disappointed so you could say I’m a fan of what they do. When I went to the teahouse, I bought several teas and one of those teas was a 2017 batch of Bai Hao Yin Zhen, commonly referred to as Silver Needle tea.
Bai Hao Yin Zhen (Silver Needle)
Bai Hao Yin Zhen is a white tea from Yunnan Province in China. The process of making this tea is really simple. In order to make this tea, only young and tender buds are picked and they are left to dry in the sun. I have tasted other Silver Needle teas in the past but I decided to keep this box unopened for a while. This batch was harvested in March 2017 so that makes it two years old. I was feeling the need to brew some white tea so I decided to give in and open the package. I was really curious what the result would be of not drinking the tea after the harvest but keeping it stored for two years. After opening the package, I was a bit sceptical because the smell was not that impressive. Once I tasted the tea, I was amazed.
If one looks at the dry leaves, the very fine picking is visible. Only tender buds are chosen to create this tea. It also has some silver hairs on the buds, hence its name.
The colour of the wet leaves is slightly darker. After the final infusion, the leaves still look very good. You can see that this is high-quality tea.
- Water 90°C
- 8g of leaves for a 200ml glass teapot
- 1 rinse
- 5 steeps (45 sec + 10 sec each steep)
Smell dry leaves
The smell of the dry leaves was not that special. I was just getting some notes of dry grass and even some hay.
Smell wet leaves
The wet leaves still had some notes of dry grass. Also very light meadow flowers and some hints of wood/sawdust. The smell was almost like an old and dusty monastery.
1st steep (45 sec): the first remarkable thing is that it is a really smooth tea. It’s a subtle steep but really delicious. It has some notes of dry grass and some sweet flowers in between. The combination is almost perfect. No aftertaste.
2nd steep (55 sec): subtle but really smooth steep again. The summer meadow flowers are a bit more intense. The dry grass is like a ‘common thread’ throughout this steep. You can feel its presence but it’s not really ‘there’. Only some very light hints. Also a sweetness in the finish.
3rd steep (65 sec): subtle steep but oh so pleasant. The flavours during this one are not that prominent. I’m only getting notes of different flavours. Some summer meadow flowers and the dry grass is moving towards more hay-ish notes.
4th steep (75 sec): I’m getting a tingling sensation in my throat while drinking this steep. The sweetness is gone and only some subtle notes are left of the other flavours.
5th steep (85 sec): very light dry grass and hay but no sweetness or meadow flowers. Still amazing to drink. There weren’t that many top notes in this tea in general but they have disappeared completely during this steep.
I was eager to try this two-year-old Silver Needle. I had a lot of fun while brewing this tea because it was so smooth, subtle and delicious. It truly was a pleasure to brew it. It’s not as intense as a fresh Silver Needle tea but the depth of this tea was quite something. It seems like the top notes of the tea have disappeared but the depth of the tea has increased a lot. It’s a pleasant and subtle sweetness that seems to surf on waves of dry grass and even some hay. Drinking this tea really made my day ten times better than it already was. It was difficult not to open this package but I’m happy that I’ve kept it closed until now.