What is tea? Well, even though there are many different types of tea — white, green, oolong, pu-erh, black, etc. — they all come from the same plant called Camellia sinensis.
And while each tea has a distinct flavor and body, white tea is lighter with some notes of honey and a rich, grassy taste.
But what else makes white tea so unique and delicious?
The Origins Of White Tea
For a tea to be considered a “white tea,” it has to come from a region in China called Fujian. Originally, it got its name from the silvery white color it gets from the tiny hair of the unopened tea buds.
The reason the buds aren’t open is due to the process of picking the young leaves and buds that haven’t bloomed yet. In fact, these young buds are picked only 7 to 10 days out of the entire year and undergo no processing before being dried — it’s these younger leaves that actually give white tea its delicate flavor.
The Best Grades Of White Tea
White tea is broken into three major grades. The two best types are Baihao Yinzhen and Bai Mu Dan and the lowest grade is Shou Mei (which we won’t discuss in this article).
Also known as Silver Needle tea, this type of tea is the highest grade of white tea available. And its name is extremely fitting: it’s made up of unopened buds that are shaped like a bunch of needles.
The reason that this type is the best is due to its Hao content. Hao is the soft down covering on the outside of the tea that comes off into the tea as you steep it; these little hairs rest at the top of your cup of tea and reflect the light, giving it a shimmer or silver color.
Hao has a very high antioxidant content and also gives the tea a very smooth consistency. There’s also a legend that says it was grown in a secret garden within the province of Fujian and hand-picked by virgins with white gloves; the story goes that only the emperor could drink it.
Talk about a tea with lofty standards!
Bai Mu Dan
Although this tea has a slightly lower grade than the Baihao Yinzhen, it’s still delicious and adored by many. (It goes by the name “White peony” in English.) This type of tea has a mix of both the young leaves and buds.
Both of these teas can be blended and flavored. The Bai Hao Yinzhen has an especially mild flavor. (Some would go so far as to say that it is almost tasteless.) At Art of Tea, we offers blends of both. Amore is a blended Baihao Yinzhen that has the flavors of rose and lavender. There’s also a blended Bai Mu Dan called Butterscotch, which is a sweet delicious buttery tea so tasty and fulfilling that it can replace even your favorite dessert.
Ultimately, white tea is a wonderfully delicate and light tea with high antioxidant levels making it a fantastic choice for your health. And if that weren’t enough, they offer a unique blend of delicious flavors that are lighter than your typical tea. Enjoy!