Ceylon Silver Tips is rare white tea that is grown in Sri Lanka. The island off of India’s coast was known during the British colonial rule as Ceylon and the name has remained common terminology (mostly for marketing purposes) in the tea industry ever since. Most teas produced on the island are black teas for cheaper, mass-market blends. However, there are a few estates that will produce some amazing specialty teas, Ceylon Silver Tips, being one of them.
This tea comes from about half way up the island’s mountain range.
The tea I am tasting and writing about today was procured from Harney & Sons. A good quality blend will have slender buds that are just over an inch long. They should not be covered with as much down (the tiny fuzz) as other white teas.
As with any white tea you’ll want to steep the buds in 175 degree filtered water for 2-3 minutes.
The resulting brew will have a pale yellow liquor. After steeping, the wet buds smell vegetal with a hit of sweet, like a sugary, wet hay. My tasting partner, Lori, describes the scent as “day old cut hay that has been rained on”. On the other hand, others have described the scent as a gentle citrus-spice with a subtle sweetness. Each time I’ve brewed this tea I have not picked up on this citrus-spice, but maybe you will.
The body of the tea is thin, yet surprisingly thicker than one might anticipate for a white tea. The first sip is of grassy notes, but the longer you hold the liquor in your mouth root vegetable flavors will emerge (Lori and I both agreed on turnips and rutabagas). For us, the sweetness that we smelled in the aroma does not come through the flavor.
Though not my favorite white tea, this tea is a rare treat for where it is grown. For an area that has focused so heavily on producing bold, and often high quantity / low quality brews, the gentle vegetal flavor of this light bodied tea is a gem. The people who pluck these buds by hand and produce this rare first flush tea are doing an amazing thing by breaking the cultural mold.As you try this tea, you may wish to consider what things – big or small – you can do to positively impact your community. Don’t be afraid to try something new or different. It is often counter-cultural acts of kindness that make long lasting ripples in the liquid of society.