So like, what is white tea??

November 1, 2021By Amy Mitchellengland-tea

You’ve likely heard of black and green teas, but have you ever heard of white tea? It’s not as commonly served or sold as black and green tea.

White tea is one of the most delicate tea varieties. This is because it is so minimally processed. White tea is harvested before the tea plant’s leaves open fully, when the young buds are still covered by fine white hairs, hence the name “white” tea.

These buds and unfurled leaves from the newest growth on the tea plant are handpicked and then quickly and meticulously dried, so the leaves are not allowed to oxidize as long as leaves picked for green or black tea production. This minimal processing and low oxidation results in some of the most delicate and freshest tea available.

The white tea we know today was first commercially produced from the very first white tea plant varieties discovered in China’s Fujian province in the 1700s—Da Bai and Da Hao. A loose leaf version of white tea was developed from these plants known for producing large and beautiful tea buds.

Because these minimally processed and delicate teas made from young buds were difficult to store and transport without spoiling, white teas were rarely available outside of the tea growing regions in the Fujian province. As loose leaf tea production methods improved, the process for creating white teas expanded beyond the Fujian province and into other regions of the world thirsty for a rare and exquisite tea.

Some white teas can be brewed a bit longer and in slightly hotter temperatures than green teas. Generally, this is somewhere around 190 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes. But others are more delicate and should be treated like a green tea, steeping for 2 to 3 minutes in water temperatures of 160 to 180 degrees.

White tea is a little more forgiving than green or black tea when it comes to steeping time. But you still don’t want to over-steep your tea or it may release some bitterness and astringency. Taste your tea after the recommended steeping time and then decide if you’d like it to steep a little longer.

White teas are so delicate and subtle that they are best enjoyed plain, with no additive like milk or sugar.

I personally do like to add a tiny bit of sugar, but definitely no milk. You’ll lose all of the flavour of the tea if milk is added.

Houses of Windsor carries a delightful Lemon White Tea.

Houses of Windsor’s Lemon White Tea Leaves

Sources: Teatulia, About.com