1 oz (29g) makes 30+ cups, 40 cents per cup
Ingredients: 100% Organic White Tea Buds
Name: Golden Needle King (Huang Jin Zhen)
Varietal: Da Bai, Da Hao
Shimmering golden tea buds create a crisp and robust red tea made from fermented white tea buds. Most red tea and black teas are derived from the green tea bush; this tea is derived from a white tea plant achieving a smoother touch.
- Oat husk and brown sugar aroma.
- Toasted hazelnut, oat straw notes.
- Velvety mouth-feel.
In early spring, the buds of the tea plant are hand-plucked just before they open. There are only a few buds on each plant this early in the season. The Golden Needle King is so named for the dense and delicate hairs covering the tea buds, which turn softly golden as the tea oxidizes.
The tea buds are spread on a cloth to wither for a few hours immediately after they are harvested. When they become soft enough, they are rolled and placed in a cloth-lined bamboo basket. The baskets are taken into a small room, at the center of which is a charcoal stove and a pot of simmering mountain spring water. This arrangement maintains a hot and humid environment in which the buds can oxidize for several hours. During this time, the tea is periodically sampled to observe the color and flavor change, as the day’s weather may affect the pace of the process. Once the tea has reached the proper state, it is removed and shaken to cool and fix.
The Golden Needle King is finished over fir and fruit tree charcoal at a medium/high temperature. This slow process maintains the integrity of the young buds, while the nearly odorless flames from the sweet woods impart a clean aroma.
Shang Tea is the one of the few producers left in the region that still uses a traditional charcoal oven to cure teas. Most farmers have switched to coal-powered processing factories to save time and money, though many will finish small batches for their own collections over charcoal. For Shang Tea, the clean taste of the tea and the sustainable management of the land are worth the expense.