Tea of Hunan: Jun Shan Silver Needle

Silver Needle is produced in Jun Shan of Dong Ting Lake at Yue Yang, Hunan province. It’s a precious category of yellow tea. The finished tea leaves have robust buds with a uniform size. The interior of the bud is golden yellow. The outer pekoe is intact and wrapped firmly. The name of Silver Need is derived from the fact that its shape is look like a needle. Jun Shan Silver Needle has a long legacy that has been produced since the Tang Dynasty in fact, and when Princess Wencheng got married in Tibet, Silver Needle was selected as her dowry. Later, it has been listed as a tribute tea, according to a Chinese report about tea.


Also known as Dong Ting Mountain, Jun Shan are the islands of Dong Ting Lake at Yue Yang City, Hunan. There is fertile soil on the island, mostly sandy soil. The annual average temperature is between 16 to 17 degrees Celsius. The annual precipitation there is around 1,340 mm. It is quite humid where the relative humidity is 80% from March to September. The lake evaporates in spring and summer. Therefore, Jun Shan is the land covered with mist and filled with woods, where provides suitable surroundings for the tea trees.


Silver Needle is made entirely of tea buds. The body of Silver Needle is covered with small hairs and appears to be glossy. It has a refreshing aroma and the tea appears orange yellow. No matter how long the tea is made, the flavor will not get changed. When it is brewed, you can see the tea leaves are standing upright like needles in the apricot yellow tea. At first, the leaves look like dancing in the cup, but finally they get reunited standing at the bottom.


Soldiers describe the dancing tea as “swords and guns”, and writers’ description as “bamboo shoots in spring” and artists’ description as “golden chrysanthemum in full blossom.” Silver Needle tea is apricot yellow with refreshing aroma. The tea in the bottom appears to be bright so it’s also called “nectar.”


It demands high requirements to pluck the tea leaves to make Silver Needle. For instance, the time to pluck the tea buds can only be limited within seven to ten days before or after the Qing Ming Festival. It also restricts a total of nine conditions that are not appropriate to pluck the tea, say, rainy days, frosty days, insect injured, slender, curved, hollowed, an opening in the tea bud, purple bud, and substandard size.


The length, width and thickness of the tea leaves are all calculated in millimeters. A pound of Silver Needle is roughly composed of 150,000 tea buds. It takes 78 hours to make the tea, which includes eight procedures: deactivating of enzymes, cooling, baking, packaging, re-cooling, re-baking, re-packaging, and final baking.


How to Appreciate Silver Needle?


Brewing Silver Needle is technically different from other tea. First, it needs a high temperature-resistant glass to contain Silver Needle leaves. The lid of the glass should be airtight. The water to brew the tea must be boiling water, and brewed fast and quickly. Once the water is filled, swiftly cover the lid. Open the lid in three minutes. When most of the tea buds stand in the bottom, fell free to enjoy, smell and taste it.


How to Identify Premium Silver Needle


Silver Needle tea is made from the unfolded buds that are fat, straight and with almost the same size. It’s also covered with small hairs, glittering in gold. The aroma is refreshing. The tea is in light brown yellow having a sweet flavor. After the tea is brewing, the buds will stand up and float in the surface. And the buds will gradually drop down to the bottom of the glass like bamboo shoots off the ground or like erecting silver knives. If the tea tastes like grass or the buds can’t stand up, then it is the fake Silver Needle.


The finished tea can be divided into many classes based on the buds, according to another report. The premium Silver Needle has sturdy, straight and bright yellow buds. The substandard class has slim, curved and dark yellow buds. Jun Shan Silver Needle has high demands of storage. Heat the plaster. Mash it and lay it into the bottom of a box covered with two pieces of brown paper. Wrap the tea up into small packages. Put the tea onto the brown paper and seal the box. Just pay attention to replace the plaster periodically then the quality of Silver Needle endures.


Benefits of Keeping Silver Needle in the Refrigerator


Silver Needle contains polyphenols, vitamin C and carotene that are all easily oxidized. Therefore, the relative humidity, odor, light, air and ambient can all affect the quality of Silver Needle. To keep the quality of Silver Needle, we should pay attention to avoid high temperature, light and oxygen. If we want to drink it at any time, the best place to preserve Silver Needle is the refrigerator. And turn the refrigerator’s temperature to five degrees Celsius. If it’s unopened Silver Needle tea or if we want to keep it for more than one year, keeping it into the freezer is the best way.