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Chinese Tea Mythology: Bai Hao - White Fur Silver Needle

Worth its weight in gold…

This tea is made from the unopened and pre-blossomed buds of the tea leaves.   They get their description from the silky white hairs above their bodies.  These white hairs signify young leaves.  In order to retrieve such ‘budlings’ there is only a two day window in which they can be picked.

These leaves look like they belong in the green tea family; however, they are not processed the same way.  White teas are air dried unlike green teas are picked, rolled, withered and then fired before further oxidation happens.  The white teas are processed less in order to preserve the purity of the leaf.  It takes approximately 3000 buds and hours of hand labor to make a pound of White Tea.  Thus it is worth its weight in gold.

Worth its weight in gold!
Worth its weight in gold!


This rare tea was only given to royalty and was revered for its purity.  The popularity of this white tea reached its peak during the era of the Chinese Emperor Hui Tsung (1101-1125 A. D.).  Legend has it this Emperor loved this rare tea.  In the pursuit of searching for the perfect cup, the perfect brew, the obsessed Emperor lost his empire to the invading Mongols.

Imagine that, dear readers, losing your empire over a cup of good tea.  Though based on the aforementioned attempt of maintaining the purity of the leaf, it must be worth it.  What do you think?