Saturday, March 6, 2010

Yunnan White Tea

This is Yunnan's white tea.  It is also known as white hair silver needles.  This is an apt name as you will observe, from the above pix(click pix), that this tea resembles a needle and has tiny white silvery hair on its leaves.  

White hair silver needle (Baihao YinZhen) is mainly produced in Yunnan and Fujian province.  It was a tribute tea during the Song and Tang dynasties and was considered a valuable tea.  This white tea is harvested from new tea buds.  Tea harvesters picked new buds that is characterized by one shoot and 2 leaves (which should be covered with white hairs).  This harvested white tea is slightly fermented during the drying process.

Lam Kam Cheun, the author of 'The Way of Tea' tells about a fairy tale behind the origins of this tea as follows : "In Fujian in China there was once a drought and nothing grew for many seasons.  A plague started in the villages and settlements and lots of people died.  As the situation got worse, the elders told the story of a holy plant that grew besides a dragon well on a nearby mountain and how the juice extracted from the plant would restore the land to fertility and cure the sick.  Many brave young men from Fujian went up the mountain to find the holy plant but none came back as the well was guarded by a fierce black dragon......(a young girl decided to try her luck).....She saw the dragon had turned all the men to stone.  Using her cunning she avoided the dragon's magic, reached the well and slew the dragon with an arrow.  She then picked the shoots of the holy plant and watered them with water from the well." The story ends with the young girl using this tea juice and restoring the men, who had turned to rocks, to life.  The juice from the plant also rejuvenated the land and Fujian today grows and drink this tea.   

I brew this white tea the fast and easy way; take about 15-20 leaves in a cup, pour about 250ml hot water ( wait 30 seconds/1 minute after water boils) and tea is ready to drink in a minute.  You will have your personal tea preference, so... adjust the amount of tea leaves or water as you like.   

The taste of the tea, compared to oolongs and pu erh, is subtle and delicate.  It has a delightful lingering fragrance and a hint of sweetness.  This is a nice tea to drink and I would recommend a purchase of this tea.  A 100g pack of this Yunnan silver needles would costs about us$8-12, which would brew a good number of cups.  I usually make 1 infusion of this tea even though I was told I could get up to 3 infusions from one brew.

There are other white teas like Pai Mu Tan and Shou Mei which I will cover in my later blogs.

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