by kate on August 8th, 2014
Canton Tea Club Week 97: Silver Needle
If you have been in the Tea Club since the early days (I know there are a few of you) – you might be getting two flashbacks here. The first is that this tea featured in the very early weeks of the club – so please forgive us for wanting to share this true classic of a Chinese white tea with as many tea-lovers as possible.
The second blast from the past is…well, me. In early 2012 we started working on the club – something that Edgar had always wanted to do. But he left me in charge. “This is your baby” he would say, whenever I had a doubt about how the club was going to work. Considering the amount of sleepless nights setting it up gave me, he wasn’t far off the mark with that analogy! You might have noticed that last year I stopped overseeing the Tea Club. I decided to travel in South East Asia and we passed responsibility over to Phil Mumby, who is exceptionally experienced in the realm of tea, so I knew the club would be in VERY capable hands.
I started at Canton when it was still in its infancy (toddler stage, I’d say). If I remember correctly I was the fourth member of staff. I’d never really thought about tea in any other capacity than mug-fulls of English Breakfast or Earl Grey with milk and sugar. But, I’d never really liked those; if someone made me one I’d always take a few sips and forget about it, later to find abandoned cold cups all over the house. When Edgar interviewed me, I got my first taste of real tea – and I was hooked. I wanted to learn more and more about good tea. Gradually I began researching and writing for the blog, teaching myself a few things about tea along the way. I may never be as clued up as Phil, but my love of fine tea is something I’ll always have, something that started with, among others, Silver Needle.
Silver Needle was one of the first Chinese teas I ever tasted, and to me it represents one of the essential teas that define Canton; alongside a few other staples (Dragon Well, Mi Lan Dan Cong, Iron Buddha), I can never see a world where Canton doesn’t have Silver Needle. I love the appearance of the dry tea – soft, plump little buds covered in satiny, fine white hairs – almost stroke-able. The taste is soft and luxurious – I remember wondering at first how tea without milk could actually taste creamy – but refreshingly fruity too, with an earthy finish. Worlds away from the commercial “White Tea Bags” I’d had once or twice before, which had all the flavor of a wet dishcloth compared to this Fujian special.
If you are a Tea Club veteran, I hope this tea pleases you as much as it ever has. And if you are just starting out, maybe this Silver Needle could represent the beginning of a wonderful journey of tea discovery, just like it did for me.