Your Guide to White Tea

FAQ Life With Tea White Tea Posted by SimpleLooseLeaf

1. Intro
2. Where does White Tea originate from?
3. How is White Tea cultivated and processed?
4. What appearance and taste does White Tea exhibit?
5. What are the Health Benefits of White Tea?
6. How should I enjoy my White Tea?

Your Guide to White Tea

White Tea is quickly becoming a popular variety of tea as more and more people learn about its health benefits and fantastic taste. While Black Tea and Green Tea remain some of the most popular varieties, White Tea is catching up and is experiencing a surge in production and consumption. In fact, in certain Asian countries, White Tea is just as popular as the other types and is used extensively due to its simple creation process. This comprehensive guide aims to give you the low down on this wonderful type of tea – Its origins, how it is processed, how it tastes and how it can improve your personal health!
Where does White Tea originate from?

When considering White Tea, we should first look at its origins and history. Each different type of tea, whether it be White, Black, Green or Yerba has a varied history and often originates from a different part of the world.
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According to Chinese Legend, White Tea was first realized as a beverage over 5000 years ago, by the great Emperor Shen Nung. Nung was parched during his travels and asked for a cup of water – The water was rank and he requested it to be boiled to remove the impurities. While drinking the boiled water, chance would have it that a tea leaf blew through the air and landed in the Emperors cup – Intrigued at the resulting change in color, Shen Nung drank the brew and was delighted at the pleasant taste and flavor. As a result, tea was born!

The fabled Camellia Sinensis plant

While the above Chinese legend creates a fantastic story, White Tea actually has a real history too that stems from the Camellia Sinensis plant. Any die-hard tea connoisseur will understand the importance of this plant in tea culture. White Tea is cultivated from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant; in particular, a Camelia Sinensis plant that is still in its infancy and has not fully matured. This plant is native to Asia and was first used to cultivate tea leaves in various provinces of China.

China’s earliest variety of tea

The Camellia Sinensis plant has been grown in China for thousands of years. White Tea is considered to be one of the earliest varieties of tea that stems from this plant. Due to the minimal processing techniques involved with the creation of White Tea, it was the first type to be developed – As technology, understanding, and techniques progressed; the Camellia leaves were used in different ways to create the other well-known tea varieties we enjoy today. Until this point, White Tea remained the prominent blend of choice.

White Tea was particularly popular between 960-1279 during the Song Dynasty of China and was used as a prime drink of the royal courts. The White Tea ceremony and tribute were an integral part of Chinese culture during this era and it was often used to honor the current Emperor.

A main export of the Fujian province

As time progressed, White Tea became a popular export in China and was extensively grown and cultivated in the Fujian province. During the 1700-1800’s, White Tea was grown in such areas as the Taismushan Mountains and once processing techniques evolved, it was exported to many overseas countries. Today, White Tea is still produced in the Fujian province, specifically in the regions of Zhenghe, Jianyang, Fuding and Songxi.

As White Tea increased in popularity due to exportations, other nations started to produce this fine variety of tea – Aside from China, White Tea is now also produced in Nepal, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and India. Each nation adds something new to this type of tea and the resulting taste and appearance can vary greatly from country to country. Now that you understand where White tea originates from, it is important to understand how it is processed.

How is White Tea cultivated and processed?

Although White tea is considered the variety that is processed the least and is the most natural type of tea, the criteria for the selection of leaves and other associated parameters are quite strict. Although different organizations will use slightly different production methods, the general process remains the same. There are three main stages to consider during the production of White Tea – Growing, Harvesting and processing. Each step is as important as the next and requires a different approach.

Growing

As previously discussed, White Tea is grown from an infant strain of the Camellia Sinensis plant. The Fujian province offers the perfect conditions and climate for the growth of White Tea; the temperature remains mild throughout the year, and there is an abundance of rainfall – This gives White Tea its delightful color and fresh flavor. Furthermore, the soil from the mountainous regions in Fujian has a fantastic nutritional content and contributes to the growth and quality of the tea leaves. Only the finest quality tea plants are used to grow White Tea leaves, and the selected plants are often lovingly cared for before yielding any harvest.

Harvesting

White Tea is primarily harvested in the early spring months and sometimes early summer too. The climate, temperatures, and conditions remain favorable during these seasons and yield the best quality results. The leaves are always handpicked to ensure that any damage to their structure is minimal. Furthermore, White Tea leaves are usually not picked during rainfall, or when there has been a particularly potent frost. Due to these stringent harvesting conditions, the window of opportunity is small which means that White Tea is considered to be rarer than the other main types (And adversely more expensive).

Processing

Once the perfect batch of leaves has been harvesting, the processing then commences. There are three main stages involved in the creation of White Tea – Withering, Forming and Drying. Other types of tea can be fermented, oxidized or extensively rolled, but as mentioned, White Tea processing is minimalistic in comparison.

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Withering – Wilting or withering is actually a natural process that all tea leaves go through. This process is controlled during the production process, however, to ensure that the tea leaves achieve the correct consistency and level of moisture.

Forming – Once the tea leaves have been withered, they are then steamed using a combination of hot and cold rollers to slightly break down their structure. This process is minimal during the production of White Tea and allows the leaves to maintain a lot of their health properties.

Drying – This is the final stage and the most important as it controls the final composition of the leaves, and stops them from fermenting. Natural methods involving sunlight are often used, but the leaves can also be pan-heated or exposed to hot air.
Once the processing is complete, the leaves are then packaged and shipped out to the end customers! Due to its minimal processing, White Tea (as you will learn), has a fantastic light taste that is considered to be the most palatable. You should now understand where this form of tea originates from, and how it is made; consideration should now be given to its appearance and more importantly the flavors that it offers.
What appearance and taste does White Tea exhibit?

White Tea has a totally different flavor and appearance to both Green and Black tea – Both Green and Black teas feature strong colored leaves and have a distinct taste – This is due to the heavy processing. Conversely, due to the minimal processing that White Tea undergoes, it is often considered to have a lighter taste, and its leaves are much lighter too. We have to account again for regional and national variance when considering the characteristics of White Tea, however, the below traits provide an insightful overview of what you can expect.

What do White Tea leaves look like?

The appearance of White Tea leaves (before you put them in your brew!) is delightful! The leaves are small in size (maybe 3-4cm in length) and have a strange coloration that is a mixture of white, green and yellow. When looking at a handful of White Tea leaves, you might notice a variety of colors and the result is quite pleasing. You might also think that the leaves look “hairy” or “furry” – This is actually true as the leaves are covered in a series of fine hairs or needles. White silver needle tea, in particular, is famed for its pekoe covering and abundance of spiny hairs.

What does a brew of White Tea look like?

When White Tea leaves are added to a cup or pot of hot water the resulting brew is extremely pleasant to look at. Due to the light coloration of the tea leaves, a White Tea brew has a light coloration that is a pale yellow (almost white). Depending on the strength of the brew, the consistency will either be transparent and watery (if a small amount of leaves are steeped for a short amount of time) or opaque and bold (if the tea is steeped for a longer period of time).

How does a brew of White Tea taste?

White tea has a brilliant taste that is palatable to most individuals. While Black Tea provides a strong flavor that some people may find too overpowering, and Green Tea provides a grassy taste that some might find strange, White Tea offers a lighter and fresher taste and is neither too strong nor too unique.
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Furthermore, White Tea can be sweet, floral, mild and appealing – In general, it is just a pleasant drink and tastes fantastic!

Regional variations obviously apply and no two types of White Tea will taste the same. For example, a White Peony Tea created in China could taste totally different to a strain of White Tea produced in Taiwan. That is the beauty of tea in itself, however! The different processing methods and growing conditions can create an endless amount of tastes and flavors.

Some specific types of White Tea and their associated taste are listed below:

– Silver Needle: A high-quality blend of White Tea that has a delicate flavor with a sweet undertone.
– White Peony: A combination of tea leaves and buds that result in a slightly stronger flavor.
– Tribute Eyebrow: Processed in a slightly different method that results in a unique and enticing flavor.

If you are looking for a type of tea that is palatable and easy to adjust too, White Tea is a perfect choice – Due to its lighter flavor and taste, it is a great tea for beginners to try.
What are the Health Benefits of White Tea?

Tea, in general, is a healthy beverage – The Camellia Sinensis plant appears to be one of those plants that can cure practically anything! As White Tea is processed minimally, it is usually considered to be the healthiest type of tea. Other types of tea can lose some of their healthy properties during processing. If you are looking for a drink that can benefit your body, White Tea is a fantastic option! Now that you understand where White Tea comes from, how it is processed, and how it tastes, you should be aware of how it can complement your healthy lifestyle!

A healthy combination of compounds

In order for our body to function properly, it requires a regular influx of a variety of different chemical compounds. White Tea contains a myriad of different nutrients, minerals, and vitamins that are beneficial to our body. Its pharmacological elements include Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, Catechins and Polyphenols. Each of these compounds can boost your body and its function in a variety of ways. By drinking a daily dose of White Tea, you are imbibing your body with this potent cocktail of minerals.

Reduced risk of certain cancers

Cancer is, unfortunately, the most debilitating and life changing disease that we can face as humans. It affects a large amount of the world’s population and as of yet, there is no definite cure. White Tea can serve as a preventative measure against cancer. This type of tea has an antioxidant called flavonoids which can prohibit the growth of malign cells that are often found in cancer. Types of cancer that White Tea can help prevent include colonic, prostate and stomach.

Lower levels of bad Cholesterol

Cholesterol can be a harmful substance in your body that can cause adverse effects – Cholesterol is known to contribute to heart conditions and also to increase your weight if left unchecked. White Tea can actually help reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol in our body. Catechins are abundant in White tea and can both reduce bad cholesterol and improve the levels of good cholesterol in our bodies. By lowering the cholesterol in our body, we are reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases

As we grow older, our bodies may become prone to certain cardiovascular diseases and our hearts
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function may decrease. It is important to maintain a healthy heart and to live a healthy lifestyle that can benefit the function of your organs. White Tea can help to thin your blood, reduce your blood pressure, and in general protect your circulatory system. This, in turn, will protect your heart. Furthermore, statistics have shown that those who drink White Tea on a regular basis are less likely to contract cardiovascular diseases or have a heart attack.

Improved quality of skin and teeth

Due to the aforementioned cocktail of nutrients and minerals, White Tea can also help maintain the quality of both your skin and teeth. The fluoride present in White Tea can provide your teeth with additional protection. Additionally, White Tea can help flush the toxins from your skin and prevent damage from sun exposure.

Improved bone density and strength

Our bones are integral parts of our body – Without strong and resistant bones we may fall prone to accidents and injuries. White Tea is known to actually improve the density of our bones and their strength. Consider drinking white tea to strengthen your bones, especially as you grow older, or if you regularly play sports.

As you can see, White Tea is supremely beneficial for your health! By drinking White Tea several times a day you can greatly improve your personal health and reduce your risk of contracting certain diseases. It is important to also maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet, however – White Tea is not a miracle cure. Undertake regular exercise – The exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous and it could be something as simple as walking through your local park twice a week. Moreover, eat healthily and reduce the amount of sugars and fats you consume. White Tea can then complement this healthy lifestyle and further your body’s longevity and resistance.

How should I enjoy my White Tea?

Now that you are fully versed in the history, production, taste and health benefits of White Tea, you should learn how to create the perfect brew! White Tea is a drink that takes a great deal of care and consideration to create – You should treat the brewing process as a labor of love and a craft. These simple steps will ensure that you create a fantastic cup of White Tea and that your first experience of this drink is a memorable one!

Step 1 – Select a White Tea to suit your mood

Your choice of White Tea is imperative. Ensure you choose a batch of tea that is fresh and recently purchased – A stale or old White Tea can result in a poor tasting final brew. Furthermore, ensure that you have chosen a type of White Tea that complements your mood – Maybe you want a tea that has a lighter taste, or maybe you want a tea that is sweet?

Step 2 – Boil your water

Once you have selected your tea, it is then time to boil the water. Use fresh tap water, and refrain from using filtered of distilled alternatives. Let the water reach a rolling boil but then allow it to cool before pouring into your cup – The optimum temperature is between 70-75 degrees. Once your water has cooled to this temperature range, you can then add it do your cup. As an additional means of maintaining the temperature, you could consider rinsing your cup out beforehand with warm water.

Step 3 – Steep your White Tea leaves

It is now time to steep the tea leaves and create the infusion. Add two teaspoons of White Tea into the hot water. The tea will now diffuse into the hot water and the color will change. Furthermore, you should be able to smell the delightful aroma that is escaping through the steam. The optimum steeping time will differ depending on personal preference, however between 7-10 minutes is considered an adequate time. Consider steeping the leaves for several minutes and test the flavor – Adjust if necessary.

Step 4 – Enjoy!

Once you have steeped the brew sufficiently, the tea leaves can be strained and removed from the mixture. Some people would now add milk and sugar, but for your first taste, it is advised to drink it au natural to truly experience the full flavor. Clear away your workstation, find a quiet corner of your home, and enjoy this fantastic form of tea – You will be surprised at the amazing taste and the fresh feeling you feel when consuming this beverage.

This guide will hopefully have given you a keen insight into the characteristics, history, and appeal of White Tea. This variety of tea remains a hugely popular beverage and is considered to be one of the finest and high-quality types of tea available on the market today. Why not consider investing in a stock of White Tea, pushing your limits and trying something new.

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