Bai Hao Yin Zhen (Silver needle) is the most prized Chinese white tea. It is made by one single bud plucked in Spring with the least processing to make this most natural white tea. Bai Hao Yin Zhen has sword-like shape body fully covered with white pekoe. And it is featured by its fragrant flavor and mellow sweet aftertaste.
Bai Hao Yin Zhen is produced in Zhenghe, Fuding, Songxi and Jianyang of Fujian provinces. And also a few regions in Yunnan produce Bai Hao Yin Zhen. But the Yunnan Bai Hao Yin Zhen is not so good quality as the Fujian one, in that Yunnan Bai Hao Yin Zhen is a bit darker in color and not so fat body.
Fujian Bai Hao Yin Zhen Yunnan Bai Hao Yin Zhen
White tea was invented in China around one thousand years ago. While white tea has kept a low profile in the Chinese history. Till in the late 19th century, then Chinese main exporting tea, black tea encountered the strong competition from Indian and Ceylon black tea and lost much market share. The Fujian tea farmers developed the processing of the ancient white tea, and Bai Hao Yin Zhen, Bai Mu Dan and Gong Mei was invented.
Fu Ding City Tai Lao Shan
Bai Hao Yin Zhen and Bai Mu Dan was made by the cultivar of Dabaicha, and Gong Mei was made by mixed cultivar Caicha (Xiaobaicha).
The mother tree of Dabaicha Dabaicha tea cultivar
The newly developed white tea was very popular in the overseas market for its fragrant flavor, mellow taste and beautiful appearance. Especially the Bai Hao Yin Zhen was renowned as the beauty of tea. Besides the fantastic taste of white tea, Bai Hao Yin Zhen was also used as one of the important herbs at that time to combat heat and inflammation.
Plucking and Processing of Bai Hao Yin Zhen
The best quality Bai Hao Yin Zhen is made by the single bud plucked from the Dabaicha cultivar in the early Spring. In the end of Spring, the farmers will also pluck one bud two leaves, and then pick up the buds from the one bud two leaves to make Bai Hao Yin Zhen. (the left two leaves without bud are used to make lower grade white tea).
Hand sorting of single buds
The quality of the Bai Hao Yin Zhen made by the picked-up buds is of inferior quality. It is not so fat as the early Spring one and carries longer stalk.
Early Spring Bai Hao Yin Zhen Late Spring Bai Hao Yin Zhen
After hand sorting of single buds, the tea will be put on the bamboo plates for natural withering.
The tea is put on the bamboo plates for natural withering
In the rainy days, the outdoor natural withering is not able to be conducted. It has to be processing by indoor withering. The withering room is warmed up by heat, and it will keep good ventilation.
Indoor warm-up withering
Generally the withering will last three days. Then the water content of leaves will be left at around 10%. The withering will stop.
On the third day of withering, the water content of leaves is around 10%
After withering, the tea will be forwarded for baking. The traditional baking is conducted on the bamboo basket. And it need charcoal to heat up the tea. The charcoal heat baking can obtain the best fragrance and taste of Bai Hao Yin Zhen. The charcoal burning will be controlled not to give off any smoke to taint the tea. During the baking, the workers need to carefully watch out the tea and stir the tea to make it evenly baked. It requires much experience and deep insight to control the heat well. In the final stage, the water content of the tea is around 5-6%. Then the baking is finished.
This is the final product of Bai Hao Yin Zhen.
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