Blog 104: Buying 2019’s Silver Needle Already?
Recently, we published a general guidance to our 2019 spring tea harvest schedule. In this blog, we’ve listed our harvest schedule of white tea, black tea and oolong tea. (Please see Blog 102 for more.)
As a well-established Fujian tea maker, we just started our spring harvest of white tea on March 15th. To our surprise, two days ago, we received multiple letters and emails from tea vendors marketing their “2019 high mountain Silver Needle”.
Let’s make something clear: it’s unlikely for authentic high mountain Silver Needle to be on the market this soon. Not knowing Silver Needle’s spring harvest schedule, you might be deceived by unprofessional tea vendors.
Some tea lovers might argue that in other areas, such as Yunnan province or south Asia, white tea’s spring harvest is earlier than Fujian. Therefore, it’s entirely possible that their “Silver Needle” hits the market early.
This argument might sound reasonable, but it is actually false. First of all, white tea comes from Fujian, and Fujian white tea is the standard of all. Secondly, the name “Silver Needle” is specific to white tea produced with buds and tips in Fujian province.
The concept of Silver Needle is similar to Champagne. As we know, Champagne is the sparkling white wine from Champagne in France. There isn’t a thing called “Italian Champagne” or “American Champagne”.
Silver Needle is the same. Even if a tea maker applies the same tea-making method, his tea cannot be “Silver Needle” if he’s outside Fujian.
Why? Because tea production is agricultural, and it depends on the specific climate and the overall environment. We can always move and grow tea plants in a different area, but we can never duplicate tea plants’ original growing environment and climate. Without the same growing condition, the quality of tea leaves can never be as good as the original.
The authentic Silver Needle generally grows on high mountains in Fujian. Because of the high elevation, the temperature here is always lower than nearby areas. Under this condition, tea leaves grow slower. The slow growth allows tea leaves to accumulate more nutrients. Tea plants “accumulate” more nutrients by increasing the density of the cell sap. The direct result of a denser cell sap is a thick and better tea soup.
Even for those tea plants that grow on a low-elevation tea field, the harvest is only days earlier than the high mountain harvest.
In fact, Silver Needle’s harvest is happening right now. Even when white tea’s tea-making process is simple and straightforward, newly harvested fresh leaves still require proper drying and withering before they become tea. Fresh white tea leaves we’re seeing now are still full of water. They breath softly on sifters under the blue sky.
The water content is a key factor in Silver Needle’s quality. If white tea leaves contain too much water, they’d taste and behave more like green tea leaves, which generally expire after few months.
Strictly speaking, high-water-content white tea leaves are semi-finished products. White tea products should be able to be aged. If a Silver Needle expires in a few months like green tea, how can it be a standard white tea?
If you want the most authentic high mountain Silver Needle, there’s still at least a couple weeks before it goes on the market. For tea lovers who truly appreciate the experience of Silver Needle, please just wait a little bit longer. Your patience will certainly be rewarded!
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