How much do you know about White tea? Unlike other types, White tea is considered the simplest, the most gentle and subtle of all types. There are only a few types in the world with the most common one being Silver Needle. We prepared a short guide to white teas that will give you the foundation you need to truly enjoy your next cup.
It is said that white tea is the oldest of all tea types because unlike others, leaves are only withered and dried. It originates in China, Fujian province which still remains the most important white tea region in the world. Although very expensive, white tea is not as popular as other tea types (with only yellow tea being less known), it has the right to be called rare. While China produces the most white tea on the market, other countries are slowly, but surely catching up with the production of white leaf – producing remarkably unique teas.
White tea always contains buds and depending on the type, can contain more or less leaves. Pluckersneed to meet specific requirements for picking tea buds -in colour, size, outside temperature conditions and others. Buds (and leaves) are first withered and then dried. Withering is supposed to be done on the sun. Due to a very little number or processing steps, quality of the buds is of the utmost importance -it will determine scent, flavour and appearance. Demanding plucking rules make white tea expensive. Generally, the price of white tea types goes down as the ratio of leaves against buds goes up.
The most usual type of white tea is Silver Needle. This tea is made from the best young buds only.In China, Silver Needle is called Yin Zhen. There are many Yin Zhen or Silver Needle teas, but they all must follow the specific plucking standard. Silver Needle from China will be different from Silver Needle from India or Nepal. The first one will be more delicate and sweet and the second one will reveal more nuttiness and spiciness, while respecting the gentle and delicate character of the type in general. Other types like Shou Mei or Bai MuDan (White Peony) contain a mix of buds and leaves. White tea can often be found compressed in cakes and aged.
White teas can handle higher water temperature, but cannot handle low water quality. It’s important to always use fresh spring instead of hard tap water. Leaves can be brewed using either short steep time or long steep time of up to 8 minutes. High quality leaves like Nepalese Silver Needle can be re-steepedat least 3-5 times, and each and every cup will offer unique experience. Keep the temperature at around 85 degrees and steep for 30-60 seconds or longer.
Due to very little processing involved in production of white tea, it naturally has more antioxidants than green, oolongor black teas. Although white tea didn’t get to enjoy the worldwide hype like green tea, it certainly was (and is) a subject of many medical research with much more prove in favor of anti-cancer properties than other tea types. Next, antioxidants need a specific temperature to be fully released from leaf into the water. With green tea that temperature will often be too low, and steep time too short .Thus, drinking white tea might be more beneficial for improving skin, improving overall health and dealing with harmful environmental effects on the body.
It’s generally considered that white tea has very little caffeine. This is not true for all white tea types. Caffeine content will vary greatly depending on the tea varietaland tea type. In fact, white tea can have much more caffeine than green tea. The secret lies in tea buds – they contain more caffeine than mature leaves. White teas with more leaves and stems will contain much less caffeine than white teas made of buds only.
White teas offer great base for blending with other flowers and fruits. Naturally sweet and nutty in flavour, some white teas go great with delicate and citrusy flavours. Our Elderflower White combines Chinese Bai Mu Dan and gentle elderberry, marigold and mallow flowers. Traditional blends usually include osmanthus or jasmine flower popular throughout Asia.
If you are completely new to white teas, try out some types and experiment with brewing times and temperatures. Take a look at our selection of Classis white teas.Tags: caffeine in tea, silver needle, white peony, white tea