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What is white tea?

Learn about white tea, its types, place of origin, how to prepare it properly, and discover what they taste like and what their effects are

White tea gets its name from the silver-white fluff that thickly covers the buds, and the brew of this type of tea is also the lightest. 

Of the 6 types of tea, this tea is processed the least.
After harvesting, the raw material - in the case of traditional processing - is first dried in the shade and then in the sun. 
Only minimally oxidized, unrolled tea.

Its brew is light, soft and refreshing, like a light Italian Riesling. 
The taste and smell are floral, sweet, peachy. 
Its color is very pale, silvery green if we are talking about white tea that is a few years old. 

If we are talking about 5-10 years old matured tea, then the color of its brew is amber or golden. Light, fruity drink. 
You can also find it in the form of fibers or pressed into discs, just like puerh teas. 
It originally comes from Fujian province, but white tea is also made from Yunnan ingredients.
Main production areas: Jian Yang, Fuding and Zheng He counties, northeast quarter of Fujian province. 

First records point to the Tai Mu Shan region as the most ancient place of production.

Beautiful video about white tea. It's in Chinese and there are no subtitles, but you should still watch it for the atmosphere.

White tea processing

Based on the above, we would think that making this type of tea is easy, as it hardly needs to be processed. However, this is not the case. 

The sensitive, fragile raw material easily loses its color, taste, character, and aroma if it is not looked after by competent masters during the process. 
For example, leaves that have already dried on the surface can remain moist inside if they do not pay enough attention to turning them over and to the right temperature. The finished tea will taste stale or uncharacteristic. 
According to an experienced tea maker, the key is choosing the right speed and temperature.

The tea pickers pick the ingredients needed for this least processed type of tea in a combination of four "general" leaves: 
Bai Hao Yin Zhen (Silver Needle), 
Bai Mu Dan (white peony),
Gong Mei,
Shou Mei (Eyebrow of Immortal).
 
Unlike the preparation of green tea, for which the tea leaves used are subjected to roasting at a higher temperature (stopping oxidation), they are naturally dried in the sun at a lower temperature, thus preserving the higher polyphenol content of the tea leaves.

Traditionally, freshly picked leaves and buds are left to rest in the shade to lose moisture, and then placed in the sun in larger bamboo trays to dry. You can see it in the video and in this photo.

Drying white tea in the sun

If the sun is not shining, the final drying is done in heated rooms, also on bamboo trays, placing the leaves in thin layers.

price of tea it depends on many factors. The most important thing is the place of production, the period when it was picked and whether it only consists of buds or already leaves. The more ripe a tea, the higher its price. The tea consisting only of buds is the most expensive, as it is picked by hand and a very large amount of the many small buds must be picked in order to get a salable amount of tea.

Preparation of white tea

We use a lower temperature for its preparation than in the case of fermented teas or more oxidized ones. A water temperature of around 85-90 C is suitable, and the soaking time depends on whether you used the Asian or European method.

You must use soft water with a low mineral content, with a total dissolved mineral content of less than 200 mg/liter. Good-tasting spring water or filtered water is best.

Effect of white tea

As a result of the gentle processing, many useful active ingredients are hidden in this type of tea. It can play a role in preserving beautiful skin and healthy teeth, and you can read a lot about its other perceived or real effects on other forums. We would not go into this, because we are neither doctors nor researchers. What we recommend, however: listen to your body's feedback while consuming it! 🙂 

Here an English-language research on its beneficial health effects.

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