The tea itself... Specific varietals of tea bushes are selected to make white tea; they include Big White, Small White and Narcissus. The highest quality white tea is Silver Needles (Yin Zhen Bai Hao) and The best is picked in early spring and is subject to numerous requirements. First of all, picking is prohibited on rainy days. In addition, it should never be picked when the buds appear purple; when they are damaged by wind, people, or insects; when they are too long or too thin; or when there is frost on the ground. The highest grade of Silver Needles white tea must also have young tender needle-shaped buds with a uniform shape, and be clean of stems and leaves. Silver Needles is among the most revered of Chinese teas.
The scenting process… The Silver Needles are arranged into “scenting rows”, that is, the dried tea leaves are laid in the scenting room in long rows about 18 inches apart. Freshly plucked jasmine petals are then heaped into rows between, barely touching the tea leaves. The dried tea leaves absorb the scent from the jasmine blossoms. To ensure even and complete absorption of the scent, both the tea leaves and the blossoms are periodically churned by workers using wooden rakes. The very highest grade of Jasmine Silver Needles white tea - called Mo Li Yen Zhen (Jasmine Silver Needles White Fur) - is churned up to eleven times, thus attaining a full floral aroma. In our opinion, this is one of the world’s great teas.