White teas are mostly grown and produced in Fujian province.
The original growing place is the mountainous area at 245m a.s.l.
The average atmospheric temperature is 18.2 degree C, rainfall is at 2837.5 mm per year.
At this area, there is a huge temperature difference between the day and night.
During the day, there is sufficient sun light and tea leaves vigorously produce plentiful of substances such as amino acid and carbohydrate, which are essential for the production of exclusive quality tea which will well influence its growth.
At night, if the temperature is high, the metabolism is continually taking place, and the tea leaves will consume the substances that were produced during the day time.
However, at the mountain area, the lower atmospheric temperature at night caused tea leaves to become less active and therefore those substances remain in the leaves.
It contributes to the mellow taste of tea.
Cultivar and Plucking
The main cultivars are the Fu-Ding Da-bai-cha and Zheng-He Da-bai-cha.
These cultivars are suitable for making Silver Needle because of its fleshy bud.
After pruning by machine, the first batch of Spring tea leaves is the fleshiest leaves for the white tea.
White teas are often picked when the buds are tightly enclosed in new leaves.
Only one fleshy bud or one bud and one leaf are picked.
These leaves maintain the silky white hairs that denote new growth.
Production Point of Silver Needle
White teas are the least processed of all teas and are not rolled prior to drying.
Since they have such little processing these hairs are often intact in the final product.
When all the tea leaves plucked they are sent to the production area, and the peeling process is carried out to remove excessive leaf from the bud.
Hold the body of twig with the thumb and forefinger, and then remove the leaf in a backward motion; the single bud with stem is remained.
The movement must be light and fast so as not to cause damage to bud.
This is one of the key processes which contribute to the quality of the finished product.
The buds are spread on the perforated bamboo plate, and placed under the weak sunshine or in a room with good aeration.
In order to preserve its good quality, much care must be taken:The bud must be thinly spread and must not overlap to prevent the bud from turning into a blackish color.
The bud must not be stirred or turned over in order not to cause damage.
Once the bud is damage, the enzymatic oxidative reaction is activated.
This will cause the bud to turn to a reddish color.
The bamboo plate must be placed in an airy location, and not to be placed directly on the floor.
During this period, the bud will lost its moisture up to 70-80%.
During windy days with sufficient sunshine, the drying is carried out under the sun.
In this case, the withered bud is dried for a day, and the moisture is reduced to 10-30%.
Further drying is carried out using smoldering fire (Wen-huo).
It is carried out using the bamboo basket (Bei-long).
The temperature is at 30-40 degree C for about 30 minutes.
A white paper sheet is placed at the bottom of the bamboo basket in order to prevent the high fire
or flame from burning the tea which causes the color of the bud to turn yellow.
After drying, the tea is sifted, and picked to remove the long stem and flakes.
It is then re-fired until the moisture drops to 4-5% and then immediately packed while the tea is still warm.
This is important to prevent the bud from breakage.
This is different from other tea, where it is dried to about 8% of moisture, cooled down and packed.
In the package, the tea will continue to evaporate moisture and then re-absorb the moisture when it is cooled down.
Usually, the moisture of the finished tea is about 8-10%.