Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Silver Needle White Tea by Teavivre

Silver Needle White Tea - Pale 1st and 2nd Steeps

Seller Description: "The Silver Needle White Tea owns a beautiful name, Bai Hao Yin Zhen. Silver (Bai Hao) prefers to the white pekoe; while Needle (Yin Zhen) describes the appearance of the thick and straight tea buds, which have tips as straight and sharp as needles. When you brew this tea, the heat of water arouses the delicate fragrance of the tea. The nutritious substance spreads into the light yellow tea liquid. Take a sip, and you will feel the smooth tea liquid carrying a strong fragrance companioned with slight soymilk scent travelling down to your throat. Aftertaste comes quick, and will leave a long-lasting tender aroma in your mouth."
Gaiwan Directions: For a 3oz gaiwan, use 5g of tea (which converts to approx. 1 teaspoon). Use 176ºF water and up to six steeps: Rinse, 45seconds, 1minute, 1m 30s, 1m 45s, 2m 20s, and 3m.
Teapot Directions: For an 8oz teapot, use 2-3 tablespoons of tea. Use 176ºF water and up to three steeps: 1minute, 2m, and 3m.
Website: Teavivre.com

Teaware: Yixing gaiwan (90ml)
Measured dry: 1 teaspoon
Water Temperature: Boiling minus five minutes
Steeping Time: 2 minutes each steep
Additives: None

I was delighted to open the mail this morning, because it was chock full of Teavivre samples! I decided to try the Silver Needle White Tea first. When the title of the tea is that absolutely perfect for a costumer, how can you go wrong? 

The dry leaves are gorgeous - perfect little tight spears with tiny white hairs. They smell fresh and somewhat frisky. It's light, but with definite elements of the grassy notes to come. Unfortunately, my cat thought it smelled a little too much like her favorite catnip. While I was heating up the kettle, she managed to sneak onto the table and help herself to the teaspoon I'd put in my gaiwan. 

When I turned back to pour the water, I discovered that the rather imperious look on her little face was ruined by the tea leaves she had managed to stick to her nose. We stared at each other for a moment, before my brain kicked back into gear and I chased her off the table. 

I wasn't too worried, but because I do adore the little stinker I put in a quick call to the veterinarian, who wasn't terribly concerned but did tell me to note any significant changes in behavior. I think it was one of the stranger calls they'd received today, but I felt better about her little state of mind... and tummy.

While it hurt to do it, I cleaned up the leaves she'd scattered and put a fresh teaspoon in my gaiwan. I gave it a quick rinse and then started the first steep. After a minute, my first impression of the pale, pale yellow liquor was a faint but creamy butternut squash. It was a little understated so I added another minute and that's when this tea hit the butter zone. 

The slightly longer steep had left its notes richer, and lent a silky sensation to my mouth. It was not quite creamy, but held the promise of it. A slight grassiness did make itself known, but it was by no means overwhelming. The longer it sits, the smoother it becomes. I can completely understand why the seller compared it to soymilk, but my husband still insists he tastes honeydew melon. (That might just be his complete aversion to squash, though!)

The second steep was even more pronounced in terms of silkiness, and it developed a slightly nuttier flavor in addition to gaining some (very mild) astringency. Overall, though, it still remains calm and mellow, sliding into a slightly grassier note as it cools in the cup. It's a lovely balm to a hectic day.

The third steep left behind any remnants of astringency. It's possible I let the second steep go a little too long, because that was the only time it showed up. The silky smoothness of this tea continues to twine through the cup, and I can finally place that sweet note at the end - it's just the tiniest bit minty.

I did attempt a fourth steep, but I think I would have preferred to stop at the third because the buttery squash and nutty flavors diminished in the face of more prominent grassy notes.

Teaware: 16oz Glass Infuser Mug
Measured dry: 1-1/2 teaspoons
Water Temperature: Boiling minus five minutes
Steeping Time: 3 minutes
Additives: None

But I'm not always going to have the time or inclination to use my gaiwan to make this, so I wasn't done yet. My husband enjoyed the sip I gave him, so I decided to make him a full mug. Well, it was his after I sampled a bit of it myself!

In the future I think I'll double the amount of dry leaf, because it was a bit of a faint cup. Otherwise the flavors stayed true to the first steep with the gaiwan. It was a little too light to exhibit the nuttiness of the later steeps, and the soymilk notes were understated leading to a primarily vegetal and grassy tea. I offered to add more leaves or steep it longer, but he enjoyed it the way it was.

No matter the teaware or steeping time, there was one thing that remained the same throughout: the aroma of the infused leaves. The smell was always very faint, as if all the tea's power is so focused - so concentrated - on the flavor that it just doesn't have the will to exude much of a fragrance. What little it does possess is lightly grassy, but very difficult to pick out.

Prominent Notes: Soymilk, a slight nuttiness, and dry grass
Aftertaste: Sweetly minty
Overall: Mild but playful (just keep the kitties away!)

1 comment:

  1. White teas can be hard to figure out at first since their steep times can really vary. I adore Teavivre's teas. I haven't tried this one but it's definitely getting added to the wish list :)