This tea. Nothing I write in this post will ever put across to you how amazing it is. Without a doubt, the best Silver Needle I have EVER had. Let me backtrack a little.
A couple of years ago, a friend was staying at The Westin in KL, and so we decided to make it a slumber party. She, too, is a tea fiend, and introduced me to this particular brand of tea. I'm not sure about The Westins in any other city, but here they are loyal to Jing Tea...for good reason too. After trying it, and asking to the hotel for an excessive number of tea bag throughout the night, I went back and ordered a box from London. Not just any box...a box of 100. Sadly, they didn't last very long.
So, when I booked my flight for London in June, one of the top things on my to-buy list was this tea, and even though I was severely over my luggage limit by the time I ordered it, I couldn't refute the opportunity.
Even before we get to the tea itself, the packaging pulls you in with its wondrous sense of luxury and sheer aesthetic finery. The box is gold and purple, certain regal enough for the likes of the Tea Queen (i.e. myself), and it is embossed with Jing's very distinct logo.
[Jing's Jasmine SIlver Needle 100 Bag Box]
And then you open it up...
All I want to do is run my hands along the rows of tea, which seem endless, but will disappear in no time. There isn't a sight quite as soothing and quenching for the soul. Truly. After you have tried this tea, you will understand why closing your eyes and running your fingers lightly across the grooves in the tea bag is as much of a symphony as any opera will ever present to you. There aren't even words for it.
One of the things which really sets Jing apart from all the rest is not just that their teabags come in silken sachets of loose leaf tea (as will be shown later), but that they changed their packaging just before I first ordered it after my visit to The Westin, KL. Prior to this packaging, it was a see through package, of good quality nonetheless, but still see through. Why does this matter? Because light and air have an altering effect on the quality and taste of tea. Now, however, the new packaging on all their teabags is completely opaque, which makes me even more enamoured with them. Beyond the opacity, this protective shell is of such good quality that you literally cannot smell anything through it. Which means a complete lack of exposure to air. What it also means is that when you tear open the packaging, you are greeted with the most concentrated, heavenly scent in the world, but I will get to that in a bit.
What the packaging also does, is to provide the most convenient vessel for carrying with you, so that you can have amazing tea anywhere. I particularly enjoy carrying these on long flights because having a cup of this brewing next to you while you put a facial mask on (much to the dismay of your neighbours) turns the flight into a mini spa!
[Individually Packed Tea Bags]
Since the Enabler and myself were in London, as we rightfully avoided carrying our favourite mugs across continents with us, we went out and got ourselves matching mugs. Rituals are important! Especially where tea is concerned. Quite a lot of the enjoyment and appreciation for tea comes with the rituals associated with it. It can turn an ordinary evening into the most luxurious experience ever. Even if you are in your jammies and curled up with a good book, a good cup of tea makes it just that much more decadent.
Finally, the tea...
[Silken Bag of Loose Leaf Tea]
As I mentioned above, when you tear open the individual packaging of the bag, the smell that hits of you is a scent which immediately calms you and releases endorphins which your brain otherwise hoards. It's not just that you are inhaling the sweet, calming scent of jasmine, it's the combination of that scent with the unmistakable sweetness of fresh grass which makes you feel like you are in a field which is completely unpolluted and unsullied by the outside world...which is precisely what tea plantations are supposed to be like.
[Beginning the brewing process...]
This tea is of such good quality that if you follow the brewing time of 2-5 minutes encouraged by Jing, it can easily flavour two cups. In fact, I usually drink this in my enormous vat of a mug which is roughly the size of a teapot and it doesn't want for flavour at all.
As with all teas, depending on how long you brew it, the flavour changes accordingly. If you brew it for 2-3 minutes, it is extremely light and subtle with a very fresh taste, somewhat like lightly flavoured water. It's barely there, but it leaves a hint of sweetness on your tongue. The colour doesn't change much from what you see above during that time frame.
If, however, you are like me and just leave it in there, the flavour becomes much more robust and full bodied. That is not to say that it's anything like leaving a black tea in where it goes bitter, this is still a very subtle flavour, but a number of different notes come out to play. Personally, what I taste when I've left it in a lot more jasmine, and a very mild hint of delicious brassiness which borders on a mild black tea. I love the flavour of black tea, so this is a very lovely thing.
All in all, no matter how long you brew it for, the flavour is fresh, gentle and soothing. If you suffer from insomnia or anxiety issues, this will work better than any drug to give you quality rest and/or sleep, and it is loaded with antioxidants to boot.
[15 minutes of brewing...]
Now, for a little background on white tea. It's been gaining popularity lately, and for good reason. It's known for its health benefits for two main reasons, it's very low in caffeine and it is chock full of the antioxidants that tea is known for...in very concentrated quantities. Unlike the lie that is peppermint or chamomile "tea", this truly is a tea from the tea plant. Not just something you brew and refer to as tea. Anything that doesn't contain any caffeine is a tisane and therefore a misguided attempt at consuming something healthy. If anyone has ever told you to stop drinking caffeine, they are trying to kill you. There is an abundance of research showing that moderate (between 4-6 cups of tea and/or coffee) per day has very strong antibacterial and anti-carcinogenic properties. The only issue people tend to face is the mildly dehydrating effect which comes with caffeine because you definitely cannot replace your water consumption completely with it. They need to be reasonably equitable.
Science Lesson: Why is caffeine good for you? Simply put, because evolution is awesome. We are the only animal on the planet that can consume caffeine without dropping dead or getting extremely ill, and for that reason it binds with our toxins and removes them from our bodies. Bottom line: If you aren't consuming caffeine, you are unhealthy.
End of detour. Back to white tea. What is so special about it?
If you look closely at the Silver Needle leaves, what you see are tiny little hairs on it because these are pretty much baby leaves which are just sprouting. In order to get the best white tea, only the top two leaves and bud are picked for this purpose. They are brand new and packed with the goodness that tea is known for. If you're drinking green tea for antioxidants, you are living your life wrongly.
If you are interested in exploring white tea, don't bother with any other blend, go for the best, which is Silver Needle, in my opinion. And Jing Tea is definitely the way to go. You won't regret it.