Classified as rarest of all teas, our tea selection in this week's blog is our unique blend, Heaven Sent Silver Needle White Tea. This high grown white China tea is plucked in spring right before the leaf opens. White, downy buds are quickly air-dried, resulting in a low-caffeine tea. We thought it would be nice to share some information about this rare tea so you will appreciate the norigin and the delicate nature of this delicious and delightful blend.
White tea is made in four counties in Fujian province, Fuding, Zhen He, Jian Yang, and Song Xi, though Bai Hao Yin Zhen (Silver Needle) white tea is only made in Fuding and Zhen He. These counties grow unique cultivars of the tea bush, Fuding Da Bai and Zhen He Da Bai, which are capable of producing the large and stylish tea buds that Silver Needle is known for. Seven Cups’ Silver Needle is made entirely from Fuding’s original Da Bai bush type, known for having buds that are bigger, richer, fatter and more numerous than the Zhen He cultivar. Additionally, Fuding’s Silver Needle white tea touts the claim of being the original, invented in 1796, much earlier than Zhen He’s.
Even at its beginning, white tea was a popular export to Europe. Its conspicuously large buds were some times blended with simple black tea to enhance its visual appeal. The First World War halted the export of white tea in 1918. Exports resumed briefly in 1926 but only to be stopped again by the escalation to the Second World War. White tea finally returned to the Western market in the late 20th century where it has been viewed with renewed curiosity.
The sweetest of the white teas, Silver needle is made up of only buds from the tea bush. Meticulously separated from the stem, the buds are fanned on to a single layer on a bamboo tray and dried in the sun until 70% of their moisture is removed. The withering process is completed indoors as the tea is roasted over charcoal. During the roast, the tea is separated from the charcoal by bamboo trays lined with paper. The very low temperature drying of this tea is designed to preserve the white color of its buds.
Unlike green tea, white tea is never fired or steamed to kill the enzymatic action that causes oxidation. Instead, oxidation of the leaves is prevented by their lack of moisture. The withering process is very long and gradual, thus slight oxidation of the leaves (or buds) will naturally occur. With this slight amount of oxidation, white tea’s color is typically not as bright or green as you would expect from a green tea.
High quality Silver Needle should be made up of large, healthy tea buds with most of their white down intact. When infused, the buds will turn to a light green color right away. The color of the infusion is like a light honey. When compared to infused green tea, it will appear slightly yellow.
The fragrance is light, akin to freshly bloomed flowers. The flavor is more juicy than dry, filling the mouth with a smooth and lingering sweetness. Just like all of our superior, artful blends, Craft Of Tea Heaven Sent Silver Needle White Tea is exquisitely perfect.
For first time tea drinkers and seasoned aficionados alike, Silver Needle white tea is a very approachable tea. It is easier on the stomach than a green tea and even a long infusion in high temperature water will not bitter the flavor. You will find it very easy to drink and very easy to brew.
Making a smoothie is an easy way to whip up something nutritious when you don't have a lot of time, but they don't always have to replace a meal. This low-calorie cinnamon, honey, and green tea smoothie, for example, makes for an excellent frosty caffeine break when temperatures rise.
Not only will the caffeine in the green tea give you much-needed energy, but cinnamon and green tea have both been shown to have metabolism-boosting properties. In addition, research has shown that honey may help regulate blood sugar levels, meaning you won't feel groggy after this afternoon snack. The next time you're feeling like you could use a frosty, sweet caffeinated beverage, forgo the Frappuccino for this 139-calorie smoothie instead.
From everyone at Craft Of Tea, Happy Holidays! See you again in 2014!
Hi there tea lovers! We wanted to make this week's blog a fun feature of a TRUE tea lover who blogs for real! Tea With Gary is a no-frills place to get everything you ever wanted to know about tea - and wow, does he know his tea! This post is all about tea and the hydration and the state of your body and your mood. Give it a read and enjoy some yummy Green Tea while you soak up all of Gary's tea knowledge >>>
I have heard it since I was a kid: Drink plenty of fluids means water. It doesn’t include caffeinated beverages like tea. That statement didn’t come with much explanation when I was little. Later, Mom explained that only clear liquids count. I couldn’t figure out why 7-Up was okay when I was sick, but iced tea wasn’t. When I got married, my wife explained to me that it was the caffeine that caused the problem. Caffeine, you see, is a diuretic. That means it makes you pee. The more you drink, the less hydrated you are. This explanation has always bothered me, but I never went to the trouble to research it for myself.
I came across a paper entitled Caffeine ingestion and fluid balance: a review, by R.J. Maughan and J. Griffin. They reached the conclusion that large amounts of caffeine consumed by people unused to caffeine can, indeed, cause dehydration. On the other hand, people who regularly drink caffeine can consume quite a bit of it without a problem. To quote their results directly:
“The available literature suggests that acute ingestion of caffeine in large doses (at least 250-300 mg, equivalent to the amount found in 2-3 cups of coffee or 5-8 cups of tea) results in a short-term stimulation of urine output in individuals who have been deprived of caffeine for a period of days or weeks. A profound tolerance to the diuretic and other effects of caffeine develops, however, and the actions are much diminished in individuals who regularly consume tea or coffee. Doses of caffeine equivalent to the amount normally found in standard servings of tea, coffee and carbonated soft drinks appear to have no diuretic action.”
In conclusion, when I am sick and/or dehydrated, I may feel free to drink my tea.
But wait! It gets better! I came across another paper entitled The effect of drinking tea at high altitude on hydration status and mood by D. Scott, J.A. Rycroft, J. Aspen, C. Chapman, and B. Brown. This is an absolutely awesome study, simply because they performed it at Mt. Everest base camp. It’s not a statistically valid sampling (only 13 people participated), and I’m not sure how valid a study performed at 17,500 feet altitude is for us lowlanders at 5,500 feet. But, hey, it was done at Mt. Everest base camp, and the procedure they used in the study does seem reasonably rigorous.
To put the results in their own words:
“The study shows therefore that even when drunk at high altitude where fluid balance is stressed, there is no evidence that tea acts as a diuretic when consumed through natural routes of ingestion by regular tea drinkers, but that it does have a positive effect on mood.”
Immediately upon reading this, I began putting together a list of people that might benefit from a few cups of tea. There are even those rare occasions when my own mood is not particularly sunny and bright. Not many, of course, but I must be prepared and have some good tea set aside for those moments.
Alas, upon closer reading I discovered that the “positive effect on mood” is actually “subjects reporting reduced fatigue when tea was included in the diet.” Oh, well. If you think about it, tea has long been touted as a good relaxant, so this particular finding makes sense.
With my hopes for a worldwide cure for bad moods rudely dashed, I shall have to fall back on tea as a way to hydrate and reduce fatigue. Sounds like the perfect thing to have along on a hike or at the gym. Surely that’s no surprise to my tea-loving readers!