Osmanthus Silver Needle

Tea type
White Tea
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Honeysuckle, Nectar, Sugar
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Edit tea info Last updated by Jason
Average preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 45 sec 8 oz / 236 ml

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23 Tasting Notes View all

  • “Based on a true story: The life of the would-be author is as stymied in the modern era by a blank screen as those who went before found themselves daunted by the empty page. The subconscious...” Read full tasting note
  • “I received my Samovar order yesterday when I got home from work…awesome surprise! I was SOOO excited to try this. Now, when dealing with Silver Needle tea I will usually put more tea leaves in than...” Read full tasting note
  • “Can’t really smell much from the dry leaf, but about 10 seconds after the water hits them, there’s this lovely whoosh of scent. I can’t peg the smell though. Sweet, a little floral but there’s...” Read full tasting note
  • “Okay, a little anecdote before I get to this tea. When I was little, I had a baby doll that you could feed fake food and then it would “go” in its little diaper. It also came with a tiny potty you...” Read full tasting note

From Samovar

Origin: Southern Fujian, China

Flavor Profile: Sweet honeysuckle nectar with notes of apricot, pineapple, honey, and hay. Aromas of stone fruit and warm roasted hazelnut.

Tea Story: A classic Chinese combination, we blend our organic silver needle white tea with freshly dried, sweet osmanthus flowers. The tiny pineapple-flesh colored flowers give the infusion a dreamy, honey-like sweetness that coupled with the delicate, silky mouth-feel of the white tea is simply heavenly. The Osmanthus Silver Needle is like a nectar from the goddesses.

Samovarian Poetry: A precious flaxen brew with aromas of stone fruit, wild herbs, and warm roasted hazelnuts. Silken body with an engaging satiny sweetness. Honey-like, and mildly vegetal, but entirely unsweetened.

Food Pairing: Pair the ethereal Osmanthus Silver Needle with a steaming bowl of oatmeal or millet porridge sweetened with osmanthus jam and agave nectar. Or serve it along with tea cookies: rooibos infused short bread and lavender butter cookies. The flavor of this tea is so fragrant and delicate, you’ll want to pair it with dishes that won’t overshadow its beauty.

About Samovar View company

Samovar's is dedicated to preserving the simplicity and integrity of the tea traditions and inspiring people to practice peace through drinking tea.

23 Tasting Notes

158 tasting notes

Based on a true story:

The life of the would-be author is as stymied in the modern era by a blank screen as those who went before found themselves daunted by the empty page. The subconscious processes data in images, symbols, rather than words, and so words are in themselves merely placeholders for symbols, and symbols are powerful things. We assign them omenic power over our creativity, but perhaps none of them are so potent as the empty page, significant not for what it contains but what it does not.

The difference, one supposes, is the readiness with which the screen can be made to do distracting tricks, all of the colorful, noisy glamour of the modern era at the touch of the button. Procrastination is practically effortless.

A piece of paper will simply lie there and stare you down. I’m not disciplined enough as a writer yet to win that particular staring contest. Not that I can claim to have beaten the blinking of an upright cursor yet either, mind you; that infernal flickering line is fairly adept at marking the endless stretches of minutes during which absolutely nothing of any value occurs to me to type about or, worse, I find midway through my typing that what I’m typing has none.

Blast it.

I have to be in the mood for this tea. There are times when the immense pressure to create something (see: sludge into a diamonds) sends me running for the cabinet in search of something comforting. You’ve (I’ve) got to get out of the trenches, abandon the maginot, and convalesce.

Sit. Sip. Ruminate. You get to a point where you think in words, after a time, which would be horrifying if you didn’t like them so much. If you didn’t enjoy them beyond the point of practical decency, even; to a point of near-obscenity, nursing a deep and secret love of language at the very real peril of turning your lexicon into a purple, frothy, reprehensibly verbose mess. Place them mindfully onto the page, don’t sick them up everywhere, for the love of all that’s holy! But these words exist, anyway: bituminous, intaglio, abrogate, effulgent. Mental snack food, chewy and easy to over-do it with, completely without substance in and of themselves.

Still, you sit and sip the tea and indulge in a few minutes of shameless inventory of various adjectives to describe it, and finally arrive at the right one.

This tea, I think to myself, when properly timed, is sublime.

So you stop, and mull, and look into your cup.

Sublime: it is a word that has roots of slightly muddy origin. Generally assumed in casual conversation to be synonymous in many ways with ‘divine’, there is a great deal more to the nature of the word than first appearances suggest; its etymology connects it to ‘lintel’ (Latin: ‘limen’) — the crossbeam that forms the apex of a doorway. ‘Sublime’ must therefore be extracted thus: to pass beneath a threshold, therefore through a door. The awe and divinity encapsulated within the word are very specific, then, as pertaining to the exaltation and rapturous euphoria one experiences as they pass into the unknown across some threshold, real or imagined.

In this roundabout way, you come across the hot iron of a fresh idea, and strike. The tragedy in the tale is that the cup of tea that served as your muse for the evening sits nearby, nearly-and-not-quite finished, and goes cold, but in a surprise twist, is every bit as sweet on the tepid finish as it was a few minutes — no…what, really?…make that…two hours? — before, when it came to your rescue while you flagged at the keys.


This post is made of awesome rolled in diamonds. Really.

Jim Marks

Post-modern era. Some would even say Neo-post-modern. ;-)


I like the name of this tea. It sounds like some sort of boss from Shadow of the Colossus or Zelda. Sort of like my coffee grinder – “Conical Burr Grinder TITAN”.


@Angr: I realize we’re probably not supposed to treat steepster like a tea blog, but…you know. ;) <3

@Jim: Even thinking about these things makes my head hurt. I had my dose of that this year from House of Leaves!

@Harf: Or some kind of kung fu maneuver!


Sophistre, hey, my posts have all kinds of stuff in them half the time that isn’t strictly tea related. Pu-erh associations to happy cows named Mabel for example springs to mind here. :p

Jim Marks

That was a book I liked much more than I expected to, given the novelty nature and the genre.


Agree. Someone I mentioned it to told me that they couldn’t decide if it was completely self-absorbed, over-intellectual BS, or totally brilliant. My assessment is probably that it’s both.

Jim Marks

Brilliance requires a high level of self awareness, unfortunately.


Love it. Makes me want to go read some Pynchon.

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132 tasting notes

I received my Samovar order yesterday when I got home from work…awesome surprise! I was SOOO excited to try this. Now, when dealing with Silver Needle tea I will usually put more tea leaves in than what is called for. This is because Silver Needle tea is usually so light in flavor. So what I did was put about 1.5tsp (maybe even closer to 2tsp) in 8oz of water and steeped for a little over 4mins (I got a bit side tracked due to my toddler wanting to help clean, but really ended up making more of a mess lol). Anyways Samovar had a 5min maximum on the canister so I figured I was still safe, but I usually steep my white teas at the middle marker. Anyways, this brewed to a nice honey color… a bit dark for Silver Needle tea I thought, but who cares right?! hehe. I could smell my freshly brewed tea and it was sweet smelling, floral, and earthy… as in a cedar wood earthy! I took my first sip and it was amazing! I have never had Osmanthus flowers before, but it tasted like a nectar… a bit like honeysuckle perhaps? Yes, I think honeysuckle would be a good comparison the more I ponder on this. Then I could fully taste the Silver Needle as well, a nice vegetal/slightly cedar woodsy taste. Very clean and pure tasting, a double plus in my book! This is a total score with Samovar’s tea and I can’t wait to try more of their tea. They definitley know what they are doing and have high quality products!

180 °F / 82 °C 4 min, 15 sec



Yay for tea surprises!

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911 tasting notes

Can’t really smell much from the dry leaf, but about 10 seconds after the water hits them, there’s this lovely whoosh of scent. I can’t peg the smell though. Sweet, a little floral but there’s something else. The company gives the the options of stone fruit and hay. Well, I have no clue what a stone fruit is, much less what it smells like. Can’t really see the hay much either. Smells more like apricots to me.

Oooh, the taste. It sweet but not sugary sweet. Fruit sweet. Like apricot nectar. Not that I’ve had apricot nectar. But I think if I did, it would taste like this. The flavor is delicate yet strong. Does that make sense? It’s not a weak flavor by any means. But it tastes very soft-breeze-on-a-summer-day.

Two thumbs up! This is going on the list of “Things to buy on my first Samovar order”.

170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 30 sec

Stone fruits: fruits that have a hard stony pit like peaches or apricots. So it looks like you agree with the company. :)


Fabulous! I win! :)


Two points to Auggy for correctly perceiving the stone fruit essence!


Winner, winner, chicken dinner!


Ahaha!! I heard the phrase “winner, winner, chicken dinner” for the first time about two weeks ago and now I’m seeing and hearing it everywhere. Ridiculous!

Anyway. I used to drink straight osmanthus tea on occasion and I loved the flavor. This seems like it would be a wonderful combination!

John S.

Well I learned something new today :)

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639 tasting notes

Okay, a little anecdote before I get to this tea.

When I was little, I had a baby doll that you could feed fake food and then it would “go” in its little diaper. It also came with a tiny potty you could sit it on. I know, kind of gross now that I’m typing it here. But I thought it was the coolest thing ever when I was growing up! It was like a real baby!

Haha, anyway. The fake food you gave it came freeze-dried in a package. You rip open the package, add water, and voila! Fake baby food! Well, now I’m getting to the point of why I’m telling this strange story. This tea (I think it’s the Osmanthus) smells like that baby food.

Now, I’m not necessarily saying that’s a bad thing, but it’s definitely a weird thing. I mean, I probably haven’t thought about that baby doll in 10 or 15 years. But with one whiff of the dry leaves, the memory came flooding back. Funny how aromas can do that, isn’t it?

So, on to the review! The dry tea leaves have tiny dried Osmanthus flower buds in between classic Silver Needles. The brewed aroma is basically nonexistent, which I found surprising. Usually Silver Needle has a nice brewed aroma.

The taste is also a little unexpected. I can definitely taste Silver Needle along with that same weird dried baby food from my childhood doll. I feel like I shouldn’t be drinking this…after all, my mother told me that I couldn’t eat the food I was giving to my doll!

But the overall flavor of the tea is very quiet and subtle. Maybe it needed to steep longer. I’m still surprised and a little bit disappointed that I’m not getting more of a floral Osmanthus note. I’ve tried an Osmanthus-flavored oolong by Lupicia in the past, and I recall that one being very floral without this strange baby food thing going on.

I’m going to have to try this one again later. For now, I think I’ll give it a medium rating. I don’t hate it. But I had high expectations for this tea, and it’s not living up to my hopes.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec

So…was the baby “food” edible? Just curious. :D


I don’t think so. My mom told me not to eat it. :)


It is amazing how smells can pop up and bring back associations and memories years later… : )


I think I had that doll or one like it called “Real Baby” – that was the toy name, not the name I named it. But now I’m not sure if I want to try this one! ;)


Hahahahaa! I think that’s the same one I had! Hilarious. Actually, it’s a fairly subtle flavor. Overall, the tea is good.

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187 tasting notes

One pretty special cup of tea.

I was craving something white and delicate today, so I pulled this out of the takgoti box of wonders. The leaves are gorgeous, green, fluffy beautiful wonders. And the leaves are speckled with the cutest of teeny blossoms. I’m assuming that this is osmanthus.

A word about osmanthus. I’ve never actually tasted it before now. The leaves aren’t particularly fragrant – white teas usually aren’t, in my experience – but there is an underlying sticky sweetness pervading the smell.

A tablespoon of this into the pot, and we end up with a light-cream-yellow infusion. Now the smell… I’m getting some pineapple, mixed with honeyed hay and silver needle goodness.

The taste… is actually a bit surprising! There’s the definite silver needle base, which is a bit veggie, but very smooth and endlessly drinkable. But the main notes here are this floral-honey note. I’d definitely lean more towards floral, though. And I can’t really identify the flavor note. I guess it tastes like osmanthus! It really is a peach-y sort of pineapple-y conglomeration.

Oh, and that toasted hazelnut that Samovar mentions in their tasting notes? Totally tasting that as well. It’s an end note, but it almost tastes like the husk around the nut once it’s been toasted. That kind of woodsy roasty goodness. I can’t describe it really any other way. Although there is a pretty distinct hazelnut tone as well.

Nom nom nom! Seriously Samovar, stop it. Stop being so awesome at everything that you do.

170 °F / 76 °C 4 min, 0 sec

Special is a good way to describe this. I loved it!

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236 tasting notes

The dry leaves smell sweet and fruity and make me smile when I sniff them. They are dark green with white tea’s characteristic white downy fuzz. The fragrance is hypnotic, like fruit and flowers and the slightest note of incense. It would make the perfect harem drink emerging from the fantasy world of nineteenth century Orientalist paintings. I can picture houris and bellydancers drinking this while eating Turkish delight as they recline on their silk cushions, brush each other’s hair, and tell scandalous stories.

The incense, fruit, and flowers that made promises in the fragrance come through in the taste. It is a languid sensual tea. It would make an excellent meditation tea.

Much thanks to takgoti for this lovely experience. I will definitely be buying more of this tea.

160 °F / 71 °C 2 min, 30 sec

I absolutely love this tasting note. So glad you enjoyed it!


I really love the tea!

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260 tasting notes

Well, LENA F. just called me out on my Samovar love, but their online store is back up and in trying to figure out what I want to order/re-order, I’ve been drinking their stuff all day.

When I was first introduced to honeysuckle as a kid, it was a joyous discovery. I was astounded that you could get this lovely sweetness from chewing on the end of a blossom. Of course, as any of you who have done this know, you don’t get much. The taste is wonderful, but it’s fleeting, as was my initial experience with honeysuckle, because my friend’s mom told us that they sprayed pesticides where we were and so we couldn’t have any more.

Ever since then, part of me has wished that you could get honeysuckle nectar in an 8 oz bottle. So far as I’m aware, you’re not able to, but this tea is pretty damn close.

When I started drinking this, I don’t think that I was steeping it for long enough because I wasn’t getting nearly as much flavor out of it as I have recently. It has the delicate, almost tangy sweetness of honeysuckle in it, with hints of acidic pineapple and honey. In the aftertaste, I sometimes get the flavor of apricot jam.

The aroma of the leaves is sweet as well, but the kind of sweetness you get from chlorophyll and not necessarily fruit. The scent of the tea has a roasted tone to it but is still somewhat sweet.

This silver needle is, overall, very light and refreshing. It’s a tea that, once I start drinking it, I want to keep on drinking [and sometimes do]. I might even go so far as to say it’s my favorite white tea.

Actually, no. I will definitely say it. This is my favorite white tea.


I’ll be buying some of this on your recommendation.

Have you checked out Samovar’s (irregularly updated) podcast? My favorite episodes feature America’s tea super star James Norwood Pratt.


Wow, I have yet to try anything Samovar (blasphemy, I know), but I just clicked add to shopping list, thanks Takgoti :)!


@Stephen Excellent. They’re one of the best. And no, I haven’t! I watch their videos from time to time, but between the stuff on my DVR, the queue of podcasts I already watch, and the fact that I’m behind on ALL of it I haven’t had time. Once the semester’s over it’ll be at the top of my list, though.

@TeaCast Bwahaha! Welcome to the dark side. You won’t regret it.


looks at the Samovar website Wow, I didn’t think I’d be able to find a place that charged more for shipping than Rishi. Get this: $49 to ship to Canada. No lie. 0_0


Hearing about your shipping woes may be the only deterrent I have for moving to Canada. Nice people? Check. Gorgeous environment? Check. Exorbitant shipping fees from my go-to tea companies? DAMN IT. San Francisco it is, I suppose.


Thanks for the shout out, sista!

I’m slowing gathering items for a big Samovar order. I’m sure I can expect some more eye rolling from my husband. I’ll just say that it was his birthday/Christmas present to me since he is a sucky gift giver. Yea, win-win situation!


Ain’t no thang! And thumbs up on your Samovar order. Win-win situation indeed!

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134 tasting notes

I was really leery of tasting this tea after the box arrived covered in dust and a dead bug between the inner bag and outer box. But my love of osmanthus, and curiosity got the better of me. I brewed a small gaiwan, and enjoyed it so much that it was soon followed by a large pot to share with a friend. Light, beautiful and really pleasant. A nice balance between the tea and the flowers. Like drinking dewdrops of honeysuckle nectar. Truly one of the best teas I have tasted from Samovar.
And BTW, customer service at Samovar online was fantastic. They responded quickly to emails and wanted to make sure an experience like this didn’t happen again, sending me samples of some of their other teas. Very friendly and very professional.

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 15 sec

Glad to hear this tea exceeded your expectations. Everything tastes better with a little osmanthus!


Holy --!! You’re brave. I definitely would not have tried the tea after a bug incident like that. At least Samovar tried to remedy the situation.

E Alexander Gerster

I’m too frugal to let a tea go to waste…especially when the osmanthus smelled so good! :)

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4843 tasting notes

I bought this sample some time ago, but just getting around to trying it tonight.

It smells delightful – fruity notes along with a fresh vegetative scent and a hint of floral – honeysuckles!

The flavor is nice. I am definitely getting a honeysuckle flavor from this cup – nice and sweet and floral. Very smooth, slightly nutty, with a peach-y like flavor.

Mmmmmmm…. very relaxing, soothing, dreamy!

165 °F / 73 °C 4 min, 0 sec

Ohhhhhh! I have been wanting to try this one! :)

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141 tasting notes

The appearance of this tea is impressive. The leaves are very loosely packed in the tin as they are quit long and “fluffy” as others have described. The tiny orange-yellow osmanthus blossoms are sprinkled throughout, but you need to shake the tin as they tend to settle to the bottom during shipping. The fragrance is hay>grass>pineapple in that order of predominance.

I was surprised by the color of the brewed tea. The natural coloring of the blossoms turns the pale honey colored silver needle to an interesting gold-orange. The coloration was almost swirled as opposed to uniform. In taste, you get a faint grassiness, then honey then just a touch of peach-pear. I know osmanthus is supposed to have an apricot flavor profile, but this wasn’t quite that sweet.

On my first infusion, the tea got bitter very quickly as the cup cooled to the point where the last sip wasn’t drinkable. (I had followed the merchant’s recommended brewing instructions.) On the second infusion, I decreased the steep time and that seemed to help. Per Samovar, I stopped after two.

I can sum this tea up as “complicated.” It was enjoyable, but it’s sort of like trying to drive a high performance sports car when you’re used to a Chevy. You might enjoy the ride, but probably won’t get the most out of it until you learn how to shift better. I’ll need to come back to this one after I’ve built up more tea experience.

170 °F / 76 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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