Categories: White tea
Tags: Bai Hao Yin Zhen, Bai Mudan, Beginner's Guide to Tea, caffeine content of tea, camellia sinensis, chinese teas, Fujian Province, silver needle, tea health, white peony
Post date: January 19, 2009
Comments: 1 comment
This is part of an ongoing series exploring the main varieties of tea. Subscribe for free to stay updated when new posts are added.
What is white tea, exactly?
White tea is made from unopened budsets or the first leaves of Camellia Sinensis, harvested at the start of spring.
The rarest (and most expensive) varieties of white tea are made from unopened budsets, carefully plucked before they are allowed to grown into leaves. As demand for white tea grew, a new variety of white tea was created using the first leaves of the tea plant. Neither traditional budset white tea nor the new-style leaf white tea are processed after they are plucked. Instead, they are simply dried.
Where is white tea grown?
Traditionally, white tea comes from the Fujian province of China. In recent years, to meet with the growing demand, tea growing regions like Assam, Darjeeling, Nilgiri and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) have also started producing white tea. To the purist, however, real white tea only comes from Fujian.
There are parallels between traditional budset white tea and Champagne. Like Champagne, traditional budset white tea is place-specific, rare and highly prized. The new-style leaf white teas and white teas from other growing regions are more common and mimic the traditional budset white tea, but they are like sparkling wines to Champagne: a close relative, but not the real deal.
What are some of the most famous types of white tea?
The two most famous white teas are Bai Hao Yin Zhen (Silver Needle) and Bai Mudan (White Peony). The former is the foremost example of budset white tea. This is the kind of tea ancient Chinese emperors would have been served; it’s rare and very expensive. Bai Mudan is a new-style leaf white tea, so it’s far more accessible. It’s a delicious, fragrant tea.
What’s the best way to brew white tea?
Like green tea and oolong tea, white tea can be steeped multiple times. For each infusion, allow it to steep for 90 seconds to 2 minutes. Don’t use freshly boiled water, but allow it to cool to about 71-77°C (160-170°F).
What are the health benefits of drinking white tea?
Most of the studies into the health benefits of tea have focused on green tea. However, since white tea comes from the same plant as green tea, we may assume that it shares many of the same health benefits. It is lightly oxidized, so may contain less antioxidants than green tea, but studies have shown that it is still effective against cancer. One study has also found that white tea is more effective than green tea in fighting certain diseases, such as Staphylococcus, Streptococcus and pneumonia.
Does white tea contain caffeine?
Like all types of tea produced from Camellia Sinensis, white tea contains caffeine. How much is another question and one with a wild array of responses. The most commonly repeated mantra is that white tea contains less caffeine than green tea, black tea and oolong tea. But to what extent is this grounded in fact?
According to Nigel Melican in this article about caffeine in tea, white tea actually contains more caffeine than other varieties of tea. In The Story of Tea (Mary Lou Heiss / Robert Heiss), they point out that the caffeine is dispersed as the plant ages, so there is a scientific basis behind Melican’s argument that white tea has a high concentration of caffeine.
Where can I buy white tea online?
A great place to start is in the Tea Finely Brewed marketplace, where you can compare white teas from different tea merchants.
Buy Tea Online – Firsthand advice on the best websites for buying tea
- Narien Teas have three white teas in their range, including a very interesting Drum Mountain White Cloud that I’ve personally tried and enjoyed. You can also get 10% off by quoting “teafinelybrewed” at checkout with Narien Teas.
- Generation Tea have several white teas, including a number of organic choices.
- Adagio Teas have a good range of white teas. Try the white tea sampler, which includes silver needle and white peony, as well as two other types of white tea.
- Mighty Leaf have seven different types of white tea, including a number of interesting blends.