What is White Tea?


How to Properly Brew and Enjoy White Tea

White tea is an especially gentle, delicate tea,  and therefore requires special preparation to fully enjoy it’s potential.  To begin with, because of the especially light nature of White Teas, only the purest water should be used.  Filtered or purified water with plenty of oxygen is best.  Using the best quality water that you can ensures a quality cup of white tea.  Never use hard water, or water that has been sitting in your kettle for a day or more.

Add more tea leaves if you are brewing loose leaf white tea.  Because white tea leaves are much less dense and compact than other types of tea leaves, you will probably want to increase the amount of dry leaves you use to brew your white tea.  Typically 2 teaspoons per 8 ounces is adequate, but you should consult the instructions that came with your white tea for the perfect measurement.

When brewing white tea leaves, the most important thing is the temperature of the water.  Most people agree that the ideal temperature to brew white tea leaves in is 170 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit (around 80 degrees C).  You may heat the water to that temperature and then pour it on top of the dry tea leaves, however to get an optimal flavor you may even wish to heat the water to a rapid boil, then allow the boiled water to cool to 170-180 degrees before adding it to the tea leaves.

The second most important thing when brewing white tea is steeping time.  Most tea companies will indicate on the packaging how long you should steep the tea leaves for, although in general 3-5 minutes is adequate for white tea.  If you do not brew the tea leaves long enough, you will be a left with a very weak brew that tastes mostly like hot water.  If you brew the leaves too long, white tea leaves can easily become very bitter.  Make sure you remove the leaves before the brew becomes bitter!

Sugar and/or milk products should not be added to white tea as they can easily overwhelm the brew and take away most of the flavor, as well as losing a lot of the health benefits of white tea.  Overall you should use your own experimentation along with the above guidelines to prepare a cup of white tea that is truly delicious!

White tea (白茶) is the uncured and unoxidized tea leaf. Like green, oolong and Black Tea, white tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. White tea is fast-dried, while Green Tea is roasted in an oven or pan (while kept moving for even curing). Oolong and black teas are oxidized before curing.

White tea often contains buds and young tea leaves, which have been found to contain lower levels of caffeine than older leaves, suggesting that the caffeine content of some white teas may be slightly lower than that of green teas.

White tea is a specialty of the Chinese province Fujian 福建. The leaves come from a number of varieties of tea cultivars. The most popular are Da Bai (Large White), Xiao Bai (Small White), Narcissus and Chaicha bushes. According to the different standards of picking and selection, white teas can be classified into a number of grades, further described in the varieties section.

Brewing

Generally, around 2 to 2.5 grams of tea per 200 ml (6 ounces) of water, or about 1.5 teaspoons of white tea per cup, should be used. White teas should be prepared with 80°C (180°F) water (not boiling) and steeped for 2 to 3 minutes. Many tea graders, however, choose to brew this tea for much longer, as long as 10 minutes on the first infusion, to allow the delicate aromas to develop. Finer teas expose more flavor and complexity with no bitterness. Lower grade teas do not always stand this test well and develop bitter flavors or tannins. On successive brews (white teas produce three very good brews and a fourth that is passable), extend the time by several minutes per. The third brew may require as long as 15 minutes to develop well. Temperature is crucial: if it is too hot, the brew will be bitter and the finer flavors will be overpowered.

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