The Tea Detective
Uncovering and Exploring the Facts About Tea
Guide to Buying and Brewing China's
Panyang Golden Needle Black Tea
China's Panyang Golden Needle tea is from the Panyang Congou family of black
teas which includes Golden Monkey, Golden Crab, Panyang Congou, and Pan-
yang Golden Needle (also called King of Golden Needle).  This family of
Chinese
black teas are grown in the little village of Tang Yang (also called Tanyang), on
Taimu Mountain, just outside the city of Fu'an, in China's northeastern
Fujian
province.
Even though the amount of Panyang Golden
Needle grown each year is relatively small, it
receives a "fine" plucking standard of one
bud and one leaf (known as maojian).  
Some Chinese teas are sorted by size and
graded into several differ- ent categories,
and are called refined teas.

Other teas that are made for just a short
time, once a year, and made from a specific
pluck and not graded into various categor-
ies such as Panyang Golden Needle, are
called unrefined teas.

Just as with
green
teas, China was
the first country to
figure out how to produce black tea and as such their manufacturing
process is unique to them with a longer withering time, and longer,
slower oxidation which lowers the astringency and concentrates the
flavors.

                                        Together with the style of
China bush varietals and cultivars used,
                                        the type of pluck, the addition of sweet buds, rich in amino acids
                                        and polyphenols, and the method of manufacture, any
Chinese
                                        black tea you buy will be of very high quality, smooth tasting and
                                        mellow, sweet, and with a longer wither and oxidation, far less
                                        astringent than any of the other orthodox black teas from other
                                        countries.

Harvested in the spring and fall, the
Panyang
Congou family of black teas is sorted into four
quality grades, with Panyang Golden Needle
the smallest leaf with the next largest amount
of tips next to
Golden Monkey and Golden
Crab, and Panyang Congou the largest leaf
with the least amount of tips.

What starts out as a white bud turns a lovely
golden color during oxidation.  The presence
of these beautiful golden tips are what gives
Panyang Golden Needle its light, sweet taste,
but with fewer tips than Golden Monkey, it
has a bit more body and stronger fruit and
nut flavors.

         Panyang Golden Needle has straight, needle-shaped leaves that have a polished
         sheen.  This is from the leaves being repeatedly rubbed against the metal surface of a
         slightly heated wok, giving them their shine.

                                                  Also, depending on the type of cultivar used, the tea leaves
                                                  will be either gray-black or brown-black instead of the very
                                                  dark monotone color of most other black teas.  The infusion is
                                                  a dark caramel color with a blush of copper.

                                                  When buying a tea for the first time I always recommend
                                                  getting the smallest amount possible to ensure it's one you
                                                  like, especially if this is your first order from that vendor.  The
                                                  tea seller should be able to answer any questions you may
                                                  have in a friendly, knowledgeable manner.  If they don't
                                                  quickly thank them for their time and end the call, moving on to
                                                  another tea seller who may be better qualified.

         Another way you can gauge a tea seller is by reading the customer testimonials.  If the
         company's positive comments far outweigh any negative, chances are they're a good
         choice to do business with.

         If you're a newbie to tea and would like more tips and infor-
         mation on buying tea, visit our
Buying Tea page for advice on
         the
types of tea you may like to try first, and our Buying
         Loose Leaf Tea page for tips and what to look for when visit-
         ing a
tea shop in person, online, or by mail order.

         When preparing Panyang Golden Needle tea the water temperature should be between
         205F to 212F and the tea should be steeped for 4 - 5 minutes.  The recommended
         amount of Panyang Golden Needle to use per 6 oz. water is 2 teaspoons by volume or 2
         grams by weight.  The following are amounts of tea to use for various size servings by
         weight or volume:

         8 oz. mug - 2 2/3 tsp. by volume OR 2 2/3 grams by weight.
         24 oz. travel mug - 8 tsp. (2 2/3 tablespoon) by volume OR 8 grams by weight.
         32 oz. teapot - (four 8 oz. servings) 10 2/3 tsp. (4 tblsp.) by volume OR 10 grams by
         weight.

         For more information on measuring and weighing tea, visit our
Measuring Loose Tea
         page, and for help calculating how many cups of tea are in a pound and cost per cup,
         stop by our
Measure and Yield page.  Also, for some great brewing tips, including an old
Chinese method of gauging water temperature visually, visit our Secrets to Brewing page.  And if you are brand new
to all things tea, refer to our
How to Brew page with a step-by-step guide to help get you started brewing loose leaf
tea quickly and easily.  

As always these are just guidelines and can be changed.  Once you get more familiar with your
style of tea you can experiment with using more or less tea, longer or shorter steeping times to
get either a stronger, or less robust cup of tea, whichever your preference happens to be.

Panyang Golden Needle has a small production, even in good years, so when the weather has
been less than perfect, it may be hard to find or possibly even unavailable that year.             

Most tea stores carry Golden Monkey and when they can get it Panyang Golden Needle as well
as Panyang Congou.  Golden Crab is rarely available and pretty much impossible to find in
the U.S.. If you have the chance to try Panyang Golden Needle, though, you'll find yourself
agreeing that in the end it was definitely worth the search (the sign of a true tea detective ;-)  
Enjoy.
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