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Silver Needle tea, also known as Bai Hao Yinzhen, is a delicate, high-grade Chinese beverage. A sweet white tea, Silver Needle tea is made of very tender tea leaves, and is considered one of the most revered Chinese teas. Lightly nutty and subtle, it is a popular gourmet dessert tea.
White Silver Needle tea was first selected for brewing in 1891. Young, fleshy, bright buds are selected to make the tea. During selection, harvesters choose the most uniform shapes, without leaves or stems, to ensure the resulting delicate, pale brew the tea is known for. As with other white teas, the buds are wilted and minimally oxidized to lose the natural flavor of green tea.
Full of antioxidants, Silver Needle is considered to be a very delicate, soothing tea. Various studies have linked it to aiding the metabolism, reducing the risk of cancer, and improving the immune system. Like all white teas, Silver Needle tea is also considered a good product for hydrating the skin and body, sometimes resulting in an anti-aging effect.
Low in caffeine, Silver Needle tea is less processed than green tea. Because of this, it has a higher catechin concentration, making it a stronger anti-bacterial and anti-viral beverage. It also contains high quantities of amino acid theanine, making it a gentle relaxant as well as a mood enhancer. White teas like Silver Needle may also contain less fluoride than other teas. Silver Needle contains no calories, sweeteners, fats, or carbohydrates.
One of the rarest teas in the world, Silver Needle is gathered only a few days each year. Generally the Bai Hao Yinzhen is picked from mid-March to early April in the Fuding and Zhenhe districts of the Fujian Province of China. This is to ensure undamaged, unopened buds from the absence of rain. Because of its rarity and choice selection, Silver Needle tea may be more costly than other teas.
While many tea instructions advise the drinker to brew the product according to preference, Silver Needle tea has strict recommended brewing instructions to produce the best quality drink. These include brewing the tea at 180 degrees Fahrenheit (82.2 degrees Celsius) for three minutes. The recommended amount is one teaspoon (five milliliters) of tea per six ounces (177.4 milliliters) of water used. In order to allow the full flavors of the tea to develop, the drink may be brewed for up to ten minutes.