How to Choose Silver Needle Tea

How to Choose Silver Needle Tea


Hey teaheads. This is Don from Mei Leaf. In
THIS video: How to choose Silver Needle tea. In this video I’m going to be SHARING with
you some of my VISUAL tips on how you can spot higher QUALITY Silver Needle. This video
is going to go under the “Tea Master Classes” playlist. If at any point in time you ENJOY this video
please give the thumbs-up. The more thumbs in the air the more tea videos are going to
come your way. If you haven’t subscribed to our YouTube channel yet then go click that
button. Silver Needle – also known as Bai Hao Yin
Jen – is pretty much UNIVERSALLY sold in ANY self-respecting tea shop. But I thought it
would be USEFUL to give YOU GUYS some of my visual tips on how you can spot HIGHER QUALITY
tea. Now, of course, at the end of the day it all boils down to TASTE. But there ARE
some visual secrets that YOU can use to increase your chances of getting a higher quality BATCH
of tea. I’ve got some tea sample here that we’re going to take a closeup look of, but
BEFORE we DO THAT let’s quickly talk about the PROCESSING of Silver Needle tea. Silver Needle is normally produced in FuDing,
in FuJian province, although you CAN buy Silver Needle from other PROVINCES in China, and
OTHER COUNTRIES in the world. It’s USUALLY made from the Da Bai cultivar, because the
Da Bai cultivar has very THICK, JUICY buds. If you imagine the bud that SPROUTS and FLUSHES
in the springtime contains ALL the layers that will eventually become LEAVES of the
tea plant. Now if you PLUCK that bud at the right time, when it’s at its THICKEST and
JUICIEST, before it starts to open up into leaves, then you can produce really high quality
Silver Needle. Pick TOO LATE, and the bud has already started to open up, and you’re
getting leaves, so you have the choice of KEEPING the leaves ON, or having a more slender
bud. If you pick it TOO EARLY then the bud is too SMALL, and the tea is too WEAK. After
they PICK the bud they then WITHER and DRY it. That sounds very SIMPLE, but THAT process
is DECEPTIVELY detailed. The REASON for that is that they want to TIME the withering and
drying process EXACTLY so that it had the RIGHT LEVEL of OXIDATION. If that process
takes too LONG – because the leaf is too WET, or it’s a wet DAY outside – then the leaf,
or the bud, will start to oxidize TOO MUCH, and start to go BLACK or RED, and have TOO
STRONG a flavour. If the weather conditions are very HOT and DRY then the bud might wither
TOO QUICKLY, and then you’ll get a WEAK tea. So they have to be WORKING. The producers
have to WORK with the WEATHER and the ENVIRONMENT to try and get the wither time EXACTLY RIGHT
to produce high quality tea. So they will work with different ways, trying to ROAST
the tea if the weather is too WET, or trying to SHADE the tea if it’s too HOT, to try and
get that wither time right. You will SPOT those little TRICKS they’re using in the FINAL
PRODUCT. So let me pull the camera ON TOP, and we’re going to take a CLOSEUP look of
these samples. Here are SIX Silver Needle samples. I’ve included
the DRY leaf here I’ve ALSO included the BREWED leaf so you can see what it looks like AFTER
it’s been infused. And I’ve PRISED open the buds so you can see the LAYERS contained within.
The FIRST thing you want to be looking for is the CONSISTENCY of the sample. HERE we
have lots of BROKEN LEAF. We have LEAF and BUD. THIS one is SLIGHTLY better. This one
is MOSTLY bud, but you can see there’s STILL a fair amount of BROKEN leaf in there. Whereas
THESE samples here are 90 to 100 percent bud; so MUCH MORE consistent that’s what we’re
looking for. The next thing is colour. THIS sample here is INCONSISTENT. There’s RED and
BLACK parts. There’s a YELLOW colour, as well as the WHITE and the GREEN. So you’re getting
a very INCONSISTENT colour profile. This is SLIGHTLY better. And again, we’re IMPROVING
here. But THESE three samples have MUCH more CONSISTENCY
of colour, and the colour ITSELF is MUCH more desirable, LESS of yellow and red hues, and
much more of this LIGHTER white and greens, ESPECIALLY with this sample here which is
definitely the HIGHER QUALITY in terms of colour. The NEXT thing that we look for is
the TEXTURE of the buds. Now THESE higher quality samples have MUCH THICKER, downy,
white hairs than these. If I try to take a small sample and put it on a PLATE for you
to look up in closeup. See how close up I can get to this. You can see here that the WHITE HAIRS are
much more PRONOUNCED, much THICKER, whereas HERE the downy hairs are much THINNER, and
just LESS OBVIOUS. You WANT to be looking for THICKER and FLUFFIER hair. Okay. The NEXT
thing that we want to be looking for is the ACTUAL SIZE and SHAPE of the buds. We want
to find very THICK buds that contain many LAYERS of leaf. Now don’t be fooled, because
THIS one may LOOK quite thick, but ACTUALLY, when you start to look at it in CLOSE UP – I’m
going to TRY and see if I can focus on my finger here – you can see that the bud is
actually ENCASED with a leaf. So EVEN THOUGH it looks THICK, the bud is actually encased
with a leaf. THAT shows that these buds were picked TOO LATE, so the buds had a chance
to start to open up and create a leaf. You can SEE that when you prise it open like
this. You can see that THIS is no longer a very thin bud, but is ACTUALLY a LEAF here,
and so this was picked TOO LATE. THESE samples HERE are MUCH more what you want to see, so
THICK, FULL BUDS. This one HERE is what we see in a LOT of tea shops, where it LOOKS
quite pretty, but ACTUALLY the buds are very THIN and SLENDER, and don’t have much going
on inside them. Which makes me think that this was actually a summer-picked tea. In
the SPRING the bud contains all of the layers of leaf, and when you PICK it it’s very THICK,
and AFTER you’ve picked it SOMETIMES the producers will go back in the SUMMERTIME and the NEXT
buds that come out – because they’re not preparing to produce lots of leaves – are actually a
LOT THINNER, and don’t produce SUCH delicious tea. Whereas THESE ones here – ESPECIALLY
this one if you look once we’ve prised open this one – the RATIO, in terms of the SIZE,
is very, very SIMILAR here. It’s a very THICK and ROBUST bud. This is
really the SIZE and SHAPE of the bud we are looking for, but ALL of these samples are
good. What I THINK has happened HERE is that they’ve picked this on the RIGHT DAY – so
they’ve picked it at EXACTLY the right time – but it must have been a very WET day, because
you can see that the EDGES, or the STEMS of THIS sample actually have gone BLACK. This
one took TOO LONG to WITHER, and therefore the edges have started to OVER-OXIDIZE. Whereas
these ones here MAYBE were picked a DAY LATE, but it was the right CONDITIONS, and so the
wither time and drying time was PERFECT to get that beautiful level of oxidation, and
maintain this lovely SHEEN and COLOR. So I would certainly be selecting out of three
samples, and leaving these ones ALONE, because too thin buds and yellow and inconsistent.
THESE are the kinds of samples that I would be tasting from, and from there it would be
a matter of TASTE PREFERENCE. So I HOPE that gives you a better understanding of the things
that YOU should be looking for when you go shopping for Silver Needle. That’s it teaheads. If you made it to the
end of this video then please give the video the thumbs-up. Check out our YouTube playlists
and let us know if there are any videos you’d like us to make. If you’re ever in London
come visit us in Camden to say “Hi!” and taste our wares. If you have any questions or comments
then please fire them over. Other than that, I’m Don Mei from Mei Leaf. Thank you for being
a part of the revelation of true tea. Stay away from the tea bags, keep drinking the
good stuff, and spread the word, because nobody deserves bad tea. Bye.

39 Comments

  1. No disrespect to you Don, but I have tried dozens of Yin Zhen in and outside of China and I honestly feel they are over hyped and over priced for a flat tasting and under processed tea.

  2. Great. I've only tried Glenburn Silver needle which was great. Thick buds and good colour. if you're down at the teahouse I'll have to bring and make you some.

  3. hello sr i send you an inbox to your page , i like a lot your videos it will be great to contact you and talk please if you can check your inbox

  4. Hi Don! What is the name of that bowl your gaiwan is resting on? 🙂 I have seen it before but can not find it anymore 'cause I do not know its name 🙂 thank you

  5. This is one of my favorite tea channels!!! I am interested in having a tea tasting for some friends andayne that would be a good subject for a video….how to have a successful tea tasting. Or just things one should know about hosting a tea tasting. I am fairly knowledgeable about tea, but definitely no expert so I'm wondering if I can still host a good tasting. Thanks!!!

  6. Educational as always! I usually mix my silver needle with Bai mu Dan, but this is a good reminder to make a cup of pure silver needle to enjoy 🙂

  7. This has quickly become one of my favorite youtube channels. Thanks Don! Just an idea for a video: comparison the same tea brewed with yixing pot vs porcelain and/or glass. I'd love to watch that =)

  8. thank you very much for sharing knowledge and clear explaination ,tea is my passion.,i keep on watching your you tube,my knowledge become more and more ,May God bless you always.

  9. Very, very interesting and instructive video… as always BTW.
    Question… is there a name for this object where the gaiwan is placed? It seems very useful to keep the temperature and convey the spillages (correct?)

  10. I've had silver needle many times and have never been one who is very good at picking out flavors from tea. On a chance, I was eating some fried bananas, then drank some silver needle tea and realized how much silver needle has a sweet creaminess like bananas. Now I can't not taste bananas when I drink it! It's amazing how a tea you think you know can continue to surprise you.

  11. I would love hear some opinions about ya bao tea, taste profiles and whether one would consider it white or pu erh tea. Haver you guys ever tried it?

  12. Do you think it's worth a try to buy a small amount of one of those late picked patches just to compare taste? I'm still new to the tea world so I have only tried the silver needle you offer 😁 (which taste amazing by the way)

    this tea shop near by was offering a summer patch silver needle which immediately made me not want to buy some.

  13. You definitely must write a book. I'm keeping notes of your videos and is a lot of excellent material.
    If you write it I will buy it immediately!

    Thanks for all!

  14. Hi don! Do you think you could share with us yr methods of aging tea? I would especially want to know if its possible to age my bai mu dan into something like jade star.

  15. This is great. It's not only good information for consumer buyers but also great guidelines for anyone getting into actual speciality tea buying. I hope you don't mind I took a few screenshots of the up-close shots to share with our farm. We're trying to improve our processing techniques for both our Silver Needle and our Black Tea. (Thailand)

  16. Even on the high quality samples shown I see a decent amount of dark (black?). Is that normal in high quality silver needle? I thought black was bad

  17. Just drank the Mei Leaf 2018 silver needle from Yunnan and did a 10 step tasting for the site. Wow what a strong body sensation. Brain excitation and jitters but relaxed body and lower pulse. Crazy. Great stuff though, had an unexpected woody note that reminded me of the warm wood in a camp site sauna. Cedar I think?

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