What is White Tea?

April 07, 2014

White Tea is essentially unprocessed tea, made using the most natural processes possible. It’s name derives from the fuzzy white down that appears on young buds – the newest growth on the tea bush. White tea plucked very gently by hand, and left to dry naturally as the white tea does not require oxidation, withering or rolling. If the weather is wet and the tea cannot dry naturally then the leaves may be put into a very gentle dryer on a very low to heat to help the drying process. White tea leaves are nor rolled or shaped, although some oxidation does occur naturally, as it can take a full two days for the tea leaves to dry completely  This is why some white teas have a variation of colour in their finished leaves. Generally, white teas produce a very pale green or yellow-ish liquor, and are most delicate in flavour and aroma. Compared to black teas they are much sweeter, and are therefore a good option for beginner tea enthusiasts to start with, as the tannin taste is not so obvious. It is also higher in antixoidants than all other teas, and has a slightly lower caffeine content.

For the finest white tea, tradition dictates that the tea must not come in contact with skin at all; it is picked by young women wearing fine cotton gloves, who cut the leaves with a pair of golden scissors, and let the leaves fall into a small bowl. Unsurprisingly this white tea is expensive; a pot of tea for two will set you back around £30!

PostTea currently stocks two different white teas. The first is Pai Mu Tan from a fairtrade tea estate in Fuijan Province, China, a Grade 1 white tea also known as White Peony. White Peony teas have a bright gold liquor and a soft fruity aroma, and are perfect to drink at any time of day. It is light and refreshing, with a delicate sweet aftertaste. White Peony tea is made from one bud, two leaves it has a mix of soft plump needle tips and young rounder leaves. The white down is clearly noticeable.

White Peony should be brewed slightly warmer than a normal white tea, at around 80-85°C. Allow it to steep for 2-3 minutes, but you can infuse two or three times. We recommend 1 Tablespoon per cup (around 1.5g)

PostTea’s second white tea is a Gushan Silver Needle White tea from the Fujian, China (also fairtrade). Picked in the spring, the first harvest, it has large buds and the iconic silver-white needle leaves. It is pale yellow in the cup with an earthy, fragrant, fine flavour. Gushan Silver Needle should be brewed at around 80C, and allowed to steep for 2-3 minutes. Again it can stand multiple infusions.

Research results indicate that drinking white tea helps to lower blood pressure, blood fat and blood sugar levels, as well as reducing free radicals and strengthening the immune system.

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