Posted by: dan | March 4, 2009

needle time

Dan: The latest tea we’ve tried is the second from Jing’s sampler set, ‘Silver Needle’. It’s grown in Fuding, China, and is described as having “light, delicate quenching flavours of cucumber and melon”, which sounds a bit strange, quite frankly. So we decided to see if it tasted strange too…

The first thing you’ll notice about this tea is the smell. Upon opening the packet, you’re greeted with a whiff of wet cut grass in Spring. It’s not particularly strong, but it’s very definite. Unfortunately, it seems to dissipate with the brewing process. This is something I’ve noticed with a few of the teas: am I just getting used to it quickly, or does adding hot water remove the aroma? I brewed it as recommended, by measuring one and a half teaspoons out and putting it in the infuser for three minutes at eighty degrees(ish – I had to guess again). The smell didn’t reappear with the same vigour as it had while dry, but considering its extremely pale colour, it’s not surprising.

The dry leaves tend to stick together
The dry leaves tend to stick together

As for taste, there’s not so much to distinguish it from the previously reviewed teapigs’ ‘silver tips’. They’re essentially the same tea, though it was interesting to note that this seemed to be a much, much lighter colour than the teapigs version. This looks closer to ‘white’ tea, which is a bit odd, as both companies may well use the same source. It does seem to go through the same development in regards to taste, although it is perhaps slightly smoother and the sweetness towards the end seems more pronounced. The cucumber and melon description is not far off the mark, but it’s very subtle.

Between the two teas, I think I might pick this one over the teapigs’ ‘silver tip’ version. It doesn’t have the same addicting hold over me, but it seems to be more refined and smoother. But I could have been misled by the difference in brewing between the tea ‘temples’ and loose-leaf.

Ben: When we tried teapigs’ white tea, I was largely indifferent. It was ok, I said. A swanky tea to be impressed by every now and then. Jings’ effort is much the same, I am afraid.

Ben's jar of silver needle tea

Ben's jar of silver needle tea

There are differences in taste and aroma. The leaves are distinctly fuzzy, distinguishing it from the rosemary-like teapigs offering. They do have the same tobaccoey fragrance though, and the aroma whilst brewing is much the same. It appears to brew much paler, which given how overwhelmingly grassy the teapigs white was could be no bad thing.

Taste is similar though with a hint of smokiness. It’s far more drinkable – rather than the sip and wait method employed last time, I found I could drink a fair bit of this quite quickly.

But. But but but. It still does very little for me, I am afraid. Dan loves white tea whereas I am rabidly indifferent. It’s nice – that’s the only adjective I can summon up. Nice.

Ben and Dan were drinking Jing’s Silver Needle tea, available at ¬£6.00 for 50g, or as a part of their Tea Explorer set.



  1. Hi guys, glad you tried the tea, although its a shame that white tea isn’t for you, it does wonders for your skin apparently! Just wanted to say that we buy our Silver Needle from a really tiny farm in China, direct from the garden and we’re the only foreign supplier they use, so Tea Pigs’ is definitely from a different place. The darker colour might suggest that it is more heavily oxidised, or perhaps packed later after picking.

    • I really like the tea, actually. I can’t go so mad for it, as I find I couldn’t drink it very regularly, but it does have a great taste. Thanks for the info on the source, that’s great to know.

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