When we talk about soft beverages there is no doubt that tea and coffee are always on the top of the list and perhaps in that order. Tea has been one of the most popular and invigorating beverages for thousands of years. It is believed that the first tea was brewed perhaps some 2800 years ago. China, Burma and certain parts of India are considered to be the birth places for tea. There are different types and variants of tea depending on the climate, the topography and the specific tastes, needs and requirements of the local user.
You have green tea that is considered to be a favorite for all those who are health conscious. On the other hand, you also could choose between brown tea and black tea and they are famous for their aroma, taste, and other such attributes. In this article we will be looking at silver needle tea. This is a highly popular and sought after tea and therefore if we delve a bit deep, we could come across interesting bits and pieces of information about this type of tea.
Silver needle tea falls under the category of white tea. It is considered to be one of the finest and perhaps one of the most precious teas that is available in the market today. Though there are many types of white teas in the market today, silver needle tea according to experts could be the best. It also is considered to be one of the most expensive, if not the most expensive. There are a few reasons as to why it is considered to be one of the best.
To begin with this type of Chinese white tea is made from young and unopened tea silver buds. No stems and leaves are used at all. This is indeed unique and therefore this might perhaps also explain the reason why it is so very expensive and so much in demand. Just brew a cup of this exotic white tea from China and enjoy its light, mellow, aromatic and refreshing flavor. It will certainly remain attached to your taste buds and you will yearn for more.
The full name for this tea is different and it is better known by its truncated name silver needle tea. It also is referred to as white tip. It has a unique and different fragrance, aroma and flavor. This special tea is made in Zhenghe, Fuding and Fujian provinces of China. It has different names in different provinces. In the province of Fuding, it is referred to as The North Road Silver Needle Tea. In Zhenghe it has a different name and is referred to as South Road Silver Tea. The former has a much brighter color than the latter and perhaps tastes even better.
There is no exact record or information to prove the exact time and date when this special white tea made its entrance into the kitchens of customers. However, there are some loosely knit pieces of information to suggest that this type of tea might have been produced during the Song Dynasty sometime from 960 to 1280 AD. It could have happened in Imperial China. There are also some other studies and research papers to suggest that the first seeds might have been planted by the Tang Dynasty, which preceded Song Dynasty. Tang Dynasty had a custom of offering tea as a tribute to the ruler. This resulted in development of dozens of tea gardens across imperial China. Different types of tea, including white tea was grown and only the youngest and finely-plucked buds were used for making this special type of tea. This perhaps led the foundation of today’s famous silver needle tea. There are some poetic references to this type of tea and the poetry confirms that it was special white tea after all. However, it was perhaps only during the middle of 1800s when the first marketable silver needle tea was produced. Hence, in terms of history, though the first seeds might have been planted quite a few centuries ago, the actual life of this tea is just around 150 to 175 years.
There are some distinguishing features that separate this tea from other variants and grades of tea. Tea has to go through different stages, types and velocities of oxidation. The same applies to this variant of white tea also. But lot of care is taken to ensure that there is minimal oxidation as far as the entire process of silver needle tea processing is concerned. There are many tea experts and tea masters who believe that it could be one of the few unoxidized teas in the market today.
We need to understand that the process of oxidation happens rapidly the moment the tea leaves are removed from and then plucked from the plant. Therefore, lot of care and caution is taken ensure that the buds do not get damaged in any manner whatsoever. Once this has been done there are a few steps that have to be gone through before the tea is fully processed and ready for sipping in the comfort of our homes. We will look at the major steps that are taken as far as the entire processing of the tea from plant to cup is concerned.
Withering is the first process. In this process the tea buds are laid in shallow buckets. This is done very carefully. The tea buds wilt and because of the heat of the sun. This has to be done under careful watch and it could take as much as 3 or even 4 days and even more. While sunlight is the best way to wither and wilt the buds, this may not be always possible because of rain and inclement weather.
In such cases, the withering process is also done using indoors using artificial warming and heating process. However, there is no denying the fact that the best quality tea comes only when the withering is done under normal sunlight. Withering is a crucial process because inclement weather even for a few days could ruin the entire batch of tea.
Drying is the next important process. This involves bake-drying the buds and this has to be done under carefully monitored temperatures that are low and controlled. This should complete the entire process of producing the tea. However, the tea also requires special packaging and it has to be done very cautiously and the role of experienced packers and skilled personnel is vital.
Further, it also would be pertinent to mention here that the process of withering has to be done only by experienced, qualified and highly skilled tea makers and tea tasters. Each and every step of withering process is important and there is no room for complacency and even a slight laid-back attitude could prove to be very costly.
The packing should be secure and should be able to withstand the vagaries of nature. However, at the same time it also is important to ensure that the natural aroma, fragrance, freshness and taste of the silver needle tea is maintained. Hence, environment-friendly and natural packing materials are often used for packing and shipping the end product. The expensive and precious white tea also has a specific shelf-life within which it has to be used.
All this without any doubt will help produce a unique flavored and healthy tea. Talking about health, it would be interesting to know some possible health benefits if this tea is used on a regular basis. Though it is expensive, the goodness, health and nutrition benefits will most certainly outweigh the money that you will be spending on this wonderful blend of tea.
Tea in general and white tea in particular is a rich source of antioxidant and therefore this is one of the main health benefits of silk needle tea. Antioxidants are extremely important because they play a big role in negating the damaging impact of free radicals.
Marauding free radicals could cause irreversible damage to the body and today’s polluted environment, stress, sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy food habits are perfect breeding grounds for free radicals. A daily cup of silver needle tea could play a big role in increasing the antioxidant strength in our body. It could help in improving immune power of the body and help fight various diseases, illnesses and medical conditions (1).
The antioxidants that are very much a part of this tea could also play a positive role in promoting the overall health of the heart. It does so by reducing and lowering the levels of bad cholesterol. It also could positively impact the strengthening of blood vessels in our heart and the circulatory system (2).
Apart from helping overcome digestive problems. This is a light and mellow tea and its mildness could be extremely useful for giving a fillip and improving the overall digestion process. If you are suffering from nausea or stomach cramps you would be well advised to try silver needle tea. It should be taken without milk or sweeteners and it could also play a significant role of an effective anti-acid solution. It has the capability of completely detoxifying the entire digestive system. When your entire digestive and excretory system is functioning well, you can be sure that your overall body conditions will also improve quite significantly (3).
There is no doubt that managing obesity and overweight problem is a major problem for millions across the world. We spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars on various weight management programs, visit to gyms, health supplements, and weight loss supplements and so on. There are a few research studies to suggest that daily intake of silver needle tea could help in managing overweight and obesity problems naturally. It does so by boosting metabolism (4). As mentioned above, it helps to tone the digestive system and on the other hand it could also help to rid the body of unnecessary and even harmful waste materials and prevent deposits of excess fat in various parts of the body. However, this will happen only if you make this tea a part of our daily routine and there are no quick-fix or overnight solutions for this.
Weight management becomes easier when your body has increased energy levels. It would keep you nimble on your feet and you would find exercising and workouts to be a pleasure rather than a punishment. The presence of caffeine in this tea will help you to stay active and motivated (5). This also could lead to prevention from diabetes and other metabolism related diseases and health conditions.
If you are keen on having a suitable substitute to coffee, then this special white tea could be the suitable option. It is a rich source of caffeine and also theanine. While caffeine helps you to stay alert and active, theanine could calm down your mind while keeping awareness and alertness levels quite high. Caffeine that is present in coffee results in high bursts of energy that is short-lived. However, caffeine in this tea gets released gradually and slowly. Therefore, the impact of caffeine is prolonged and long-lasting. If you do not love strong-flavored drinks and beverages then silver needle tea could be a great option (6).
Most of us drink tea by mixing it with milk and sugar. Sugar and bacteria are good friends and it could lead to tooth decay. However, when you switch over to this white tea, you can drink it without sugar and milk. The mild favor, free from bitterness and astringent will certainly make it very palatable and a flavored/favored drink. It also has the capability of killing harmful bacteria in your mouth (7).
Presence of caffeine is perhaps the only side-effect of silver needle tea. This is a side-effect (if you would like to call it one) with all tea and coffee beverages. Hence, it would be better to avoid this tea if you are a pregnant mother or if you are a lactating mother. Children below the age of ten should also be kept away from any drink that is rich in caffeine content (8).
The process of brewing this tea is quite simple. The water should be at a temperature of 80 degree centigrade. Add a teaspoonful of silver needle tea and let it boil in the water for around three to five minutes. Filter it and drink it out of a cup when it is hot. The heat, aroma, flavor and taste will certainly make it a unique and wonderful drink.