March 14, 2022 2 min read
Hopefully as some of you know, I have been visiting Sri Lanka for the last month. One of the highlights for me has been hunting for Silver Tips. Let me explain.
The basics. There are four types of tea. Black, Green, Oolong and White. It is White we are going to focus on today. It is the least processed of all tea types.
Black, Oolong and Green teas can each be made using any variety of tea bush, and the final tea is determined by the manufacture process. Black tea is fully oxidised. Oolong tea is semi oxidised whilst green tea is not oxidised at all. By oxidised we mean reacting with oxygen in the air, similar to what you see if you cut an apple and leave it on a plate for 30minutes, it goes brown – that is oxidation.
White tea is the least processed of all teas and comes from a particular variety of tea plant. In the trade we call this TRI 2043. This tea bush produces a tea plant with a reddish leaf and an all-important silver tea bud, but not every estate has this bush as it is a very low yielding plant. There are three varieties of white tea: Golden Tips, Silver Tips, and pure White Tea. Each are made using this type of bush.
The top leaves and a bud are hand-picked from the bush. The tea leaves are then sent to the factory where they are again sorted. The bud is gently picked, and it is this that will become Silver or Golden Tips. The bottom two leaves will become White Tea.
This is slow, time consuming, meticulous work, and takes a lot of patience and attention to detail. This is reflected in the prices of the teas.
During this trip to Sri Lanka, we have been hunting for Silver Tips which is a very sought-after tea and one that we source for some very prestigious retailers including Harrods, The Rubens at the Palace for the Golden Tip Tea experience as well as selling it at PMDTea.com
The “Silver Tips Hunt” has taken me to several estates, and what I found was that the higher in elevation we travelled the better the flavour. The reason for this is simple: at higher elevations it is a lot cooler, the tea grows slower, and the buds have more time to stay on the bush to develop flavour.
The cooler climate, extra time on the bush and the uniqueness of the soils found at higher elevations create the fragrance you find in cups of Silver Tips.
Silver Tips is a tea that can be enjoyed over multiple infusions. Each infusion giving a different note.
I keep this tea to enjoy on the weekends, whilst reading the papers.