Silver Needle White Tea (Bai Hao Yin Zhen): Everything You Need to Know (And How to Make it Properly)

silver needle tea leaves

Quick Look:

  • ORIGIN: China
  • TASTING NOTES: light, smooth, fruity, floral, grassy
  • STEEP TIME: 3 to 5 minutes
  • CAFFEINE METER: Moderate

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What is Silver Needle White Tea?

Also known as Bai Hao Yin Zhen, or “White Hair Silver Needle”, Silver Needle tea is the highest grade and most expensive variety of white tea. 

While most other teas are made with just leaves, or buds and leaves together, Silver Needle is made with exclusively the youngest buds. These young buds make Silver Needle rare and precious, giving it its light, beautiful flavor, and pale yellow brew color.

How do you pronounce Bai Hao Yin Zhen?

The proper way to pronounce Bai Hao Yin Zhen is “buy how yin jen”. 

What do you need to make Silver Needle White tea?

Tea Scoop

This is the perfect tool to help you get the perfectly measured scoop of tea leaves every single time. You won’t regret adding this to your tea arsenal!

Electric Tea Kettle

An electric tea kettle with a temperature setting is a must-have brew gadget for tea drinkers! You can set the temperature to the degree for the perfect brew every time. This kettle is a favorite of ours. Or you can check out our full post on the best electric tea kettles.

Spring Water or Filtered Water

To get the best flavors from your tea, use high-quality water. Don’t use tap water or distilled water!

Tea Pot with Strainer

A teapot with a built-in strainer makes brewing tea so much easier when you’re using loose tea leaves. If you’re an avid tea drinker, you won’t regret buying this tea tool!

Loose Silver Needle Tea Leaves

Using loose tea leaves really will give you the best tea-drinking experience. By letting loose leaves steep in the boiled water, they have room to unfurl and release all of their natural aromas. If you can’t use loose leaves, a tea sachet is the next best thing, since they have more room than a traditional tea bag.

Tea Cup

This one is up to you! Use whatever cup makes you happy! If you need some inspiration, check out some of our favorite drinkware.

How do you make Silver Needle White tea properly?

To make the perfect cup of Bai Hao Yin Zhen (Silver Needle) tea, you will want to use 1.5 teaspoons of tea leaves for each 8-ounce cup. If you don’t have loose-leaf tea, use 1 tea sachet or 1 tea bag.

Tea tip: if you want a stronger flavor, add more tea leaves rather than steeping them for a longer period of time. Most people don’t realize this, but steeping tea too long doesn’t increase the good flavors, it actually can make it more bitter.

Step 1: Pour your water into the tea kettle.

Use cold bottled spring water or cold filtered water. (Tea Tip: Do not use distilled water – this will negatively impact the taste). Make sure to pour some extra water to warm up your teapot or steeping vessel.

Step 2: Boil your water.

For an optimal flavor experience, bring the water to about 175°F. It is important to avoid brewing with boiling water, as the high water temperature can scorch the leaves and ruin the delicate flavors of Silver Needle tea, making it bitter. If you do not have an electric tea kettle with a temperature setting, just bring your kettle to a simmer, then remove from the heat and let the water sit for a couple of minutes before steeping the tea. 

Step 3: Warm up your teapot.

First, pour a bit of your boiled water into your teapot or steeping vessel and swirl it around for a few seconds to allow it to warm the vessel. Then you can discard this water in the sink. 

Step 4: Put your Silver Needle tea leaves into the teapot and add the rest of your hot water and then cover the pot.

Step 5: Steep your tea leaves for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how “strong” you would like your tea to be.

Step 6: Strain your tea leaves.

This is easiest if you have a teapot with a strainer. 

You can set aside your tea leaves for another steep. You can re-steep your leaves 3 to 5 times, each time adding 30 seconds to the steep time. 

Step 7: Decant your infused tea into your teacup, add sweeteners to taste, and enjoy!

Tea Tip:

For a more authentic tea experience, you can also brew Silver Needle tea “gongfu style”, which uses more tea leaves, a much shorter steep time, and a Gaiwan. The Gaiwan is a small traditional Chinese brewing vessel made of either porcelain or glass. Its use dates back to the Ming Dynasty and its name literally means “lid and bowl”. 

Can you cold brew Silver Needle White Tea?

Yes you can cold brew Silver Needle White tea for a delicate and refreshing drink!

Interestingly, the caffeine in the tea buds is extracted less when it is steeped at cooler temperatures, resulting in a less caffeinated version of Bai Hao Yin Zhen. 

Keep reading for the steps to Cold Brewing Silver Needle White tea at home.

Did you know cold brewing is the best way to make iced tea? To learn all about it, check out our post on everything you need to know about cold brew.

How do you make cold brew Silver Needle White tea properly?

To cold brew Silver Needle tea, use 1.5 teaspoons of Silver Needle Tea leaves for every 8-ounce cup of water.

STEP 1: Add your tea leaves to a pitcher with an infuser.

STEP 2: Pour room-temperature filtered water or spring water over the tea and stir gently.

STEP 3: Put your pitcher in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours, and up to 48 hours.

STEP 4: Strain the leaves and enjoy!

What does Silver Needle White tea taste like?

Bai Hao Yin Zhen is light, smooth, and fresh thanks to its young buds. It is never bitter and can have hints of fruitiness, florals, and even grassiness. 

How much caffeine is in Silver Needle White tea?

The exact amount of caffeine in a cup of Silver Needle White tea varies depending on different factors such as quality and steep times. 

Overall, white tea does have much less caffeine than most black teas as well as coffee. In fact, white tea, on average, has about 40% less caffeine than a cup of Joe. However, the notion that white tea is generally “the lowest” in caffeine is a myth. 

Since Silver Needle tea is made with pure young buds, as opposed to a mix of buds and leaves, it has the highest caffeine content of all the white tea varieties, with an average of about 65 mg of caffeine per cup. 

What are some health benefits of drinking Silver Needle White tea?

Silver Needle White tea has many health benefits including antioxidants, heart health, metabolism boost, and digestion aid!

For the full summary, check out our post on the health benefits and possible side effects of White teas.

Where can you find good quality Silver Needle tea?

There are several good quality Silver Needle tea options you can try. Here are just a few options to get you started:

What is the best way to store Silver Needle White tea?

When it comes to storing Silver Needle White tea, there are a few important things you will want to avoid. These are air exposure, light exposure, moisture, heat, and strong odors. 

In order to keep your Bai Hao Yin Zhen in its best and freshest condition, you will want to store it in a container that helps avoid the above-mentioned threats. 

The best containers are made of opaque materials with a tight seal. Some good options include non-reactive metals, glazed ceramics, and non-leaching plastics. Beware that while you may see wood tea storage options, they are not best for storing loose-leaf tea, as they can have their own odors that can alter the taste of your tea. 

Once you have your tea in its storage container, keep it in a cool, dark place. 

Here are some good options for storing your Silver Needle tea:

Looking for ways to organize your tea bags? Try these:

You want to ensure your tea stays fresh as long as possible. To make sure you’re not making any common mistakes, be sure to check out our post on the best practices in tea storage!

We hope this guide helped you learn everything you need to know about Silver Needle White tea and how to make it at home!

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