Silver Needle



April 2020

Jinggu, Yunnan

This experimental white tea comes to us from Mr. Tang in Yunnan.

Mr. Tang left his corporate job in Kunming city, in 2006. He had rented a small place in rural Yunnan where his only intentions were to read, reflect, and drink tea with friends. In one of these conversations an old friend, Li, suggested that Tang grow tea in Li’s hometown, Yangta Village. That July the two of them traveled to Jinggu in Yangta and leased 11 acres of forested land from Li’s niece.

The area they leased was wild growth at 6500 ft elevation. This is where they would eventually plant 70,000 Jinggu Big White tea trees. Tang also leased another tea garden in the mountain that locals had shown him; a highly regarded area that was home to ancient pu’erh trees. And so, while he waited for his Jinggu Big Whites, Tang began making pu’erh from these very old trees.

We visited Tang’s tea estate in April 2019 and Tang took us on the steep hike to see his pu-erh tea garden. I spent several hours there, observing the graceful and efficient way that the elders harvested the tea leaves, studying the trunk structures of the ancient trees, and admiring the vibrant mosses that had grown on them.

For Mr. Tang, crafting beautiful teas from a clean and balanced ecosystem is sacred. He is deeply dedicated to the craft of traditional tea making; this philosophy guides everything he does, and is embedded in every single tea he makes. Alongside being an expression of this special ecosystem, his teas are so distinctly peaceful, and feel extremely clear, just as he feels as a person.

The Jinggu Big White varietal of pu erh trees were widely planted between 1985 and 1993. The varietal was popular for its beautiful leaves and high yield. Back then, most tea farmers either processed the leaves as pu erh and sold them as Mao Cha to bigger pu erh factories, made them into silvery green tea and sold them to Guangxi to be turned into jasmine tea, or made them into golden tips black tea.

In this instance Mr. Tang is doing something we have never seen before with Jinggu Big White, and we can consider him a pioneer for dedicating so many years of experimentation to achieving it. With beautiful results, he has applied the traditional method of craftsmanship for Fujian white tea from Fujian to the young buds of the Jinggu Big White varietal of pu erh tree.

The fluffy silver needles have been pressed into a cake that looks like a shimmering silk cushion. The tea is clean, with a long lasting finish. It is both sweet and sustained, giving us time to marvel at the new experience we are being offered by this traditional form of ingenuity.  

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Brewing guide

Tea 4g
90-100 °C
Water  120ml
Steep time 10 - 90 sec
No. of infusions 10+

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