I have an official rule for ordering high-end teas to carry in the Studio: when I’m willing to drink the whole pound myself then I can order the tea. This was my self-promise with Oriental Beauty, Guangdong Special Grade Green, Da Hong Pao, and coming soon: White Ceylon Silver Tip. I love all of these teas, but carrying them in inventory with the confidence that my customers will want to pay their price is a whole other consideration. To my delight, customers have loved these teas as much as me and I have trouble keeping them in stock.
Ceylon is traditionally a black tea, and the classifications are low-grown, mid-grown, and high-grown with the high-grown teas usually commanding the highest price (which is still very reasonable at about $3-$4/oz. retail). White Ceylon originally caught my interest because I like to have different single origin teas for my tea classes.
So what is so great about White Ceylon and why does it cost so much (retail $18/oz.)? I put this question to my wholesaler, Guy Paranavitana, owner of Empire Tea, and this is his reply:
“Ceylon Silver Tip as it is known is a much larger bud made from the hybrid TRI 2043. It is rare, unlike the China Bai Hao Silver Needle which is available in much larger quantities. The demand causes the price to rise. Taste wise too there is a difference. The Ceylon white is more flavorful and [has] a heartier mouth feel….”
My personal experience with tasting the sample was exactly as Guy described: it has a fuller mouth feel than other white teas. The steaming steeped leaf has the scent of roasted chestnuts with a very light stone fruit note, as has the tea. The buds are a bit longer than silver needle and I’m able to get three really flavorful steeps from the same leaves. This white tea is a great example of the unique natural flavors to be discovered in tea. I wouldn’t have expected to find a white tea coming from Sri Lanka, but it reinforces that any Camellia sinensis cultivar can be processed as a white, green, oolong, black or pu’erh tea.
My sample is running out so I hope my tea arrives this week. I can’t wait to introduce it.