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White Tea Guide

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White teas (also known as Baicha or Bai Cha) are semi oxidized teas consisting mainly of buds from the Camellia Sinensis plant. The higher quality white teas will be all buds and the lower grades may contain leaves as well. White teas were once reserved exclusively for members of the Chinese royal family. It was only around 200 years ago that white tea was made available to the public. Even after its release, it remained within China until fairly recently. Today White tea is highly revered and sought after by many tea lovers. White tea contains much less caffeine than other types of tea. This coupled with their light flavour makes them perfect for mixing with herbal teas for extra health benefits.

The Best White Tea: It is very hard to declare a white tea as the best. But there are a few that stand out.

- Silver Needle: Ones of Top 10 Chinese Teas, also known as Baihao Yinzhen, it is a very rare tea; only top buds (leaf shoots) are used to produce the tea, picked over a very short time during the harvest period.

- White Peony: A tea containing both buds and leaves. Making for a beautiful brew.

Processing of White Tea: The buds are picked very early in the harvesting season (early spring) before the leaves have time to fully bloom. The refinement process for white tea is simple. The buds are plucked and withered. Withering or ‘air drying’ is where the buds are left out to dry until all the immature chlorophyll dies off and they are free of moisture.

Appearance and Taste of White Tea: The tea has been labeled ‘white’ because of the silver colour of its buds and the pale yellow/silver liquor it produces. Once brewed white tea has a remarkably soft, crisp and sweet flavour. This is because of the stage of their development when they are picked. The young buds are picked right before the leaves open for the first time. To aid them in their first steps nature gives them an extra boost of glucose. This makes the undeveloped buds much sweeter than the fully grown leaves.

Health Benefits of White Tea: White tea is prized for its high antioxidant content comparable with that of greens and oolongs. This means it may help promote healthy skin and teeth, detoxification, hydration and some studies have shown white tea may have cancer fighting properties. White tea may also help with cardiovascular health and may help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Today, white tea can also be found in many anti ageing products.

Growing Regions of White Tea: White tea is traditionally grown in the Fujian province of China. Although this tea is now being produced in many other parts of the world (Sri Lanka, Darjeeling, Kenya and South Asia) the highest quality white tea still comes from China.

Tips for Steeping White Tea: White tea is a delicate tea and can easily be made bitter by improper steeping methods. We recommend you use glass or thin ceramic. These methods allow heat to escape the brewing vessel which adds to the light flavour of the tea. For the best tasting brew, make sure to use water that is slightly less than boiling (around 80-85 degrees Celsius.) If you do not have variable temperature kettle, boil water in a regular kettle and let stand for 5 minutes. Read more about which water to use for different tea at our Tea Steeping Guide. White teas can also be re-infused several times.

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