Type: White Tea
Net Weight: 50g x 3
Description: White Tea is the least processed form of tea, made only from buds and select leaves of the tea plant. The finest quality white tea, Silver Needle, is made only from unopened buds and gets it name from the fine silvery white hairs on the buds. Beautiful and pleasant tasting, white tea was a luxury available only to the emperor of China. Now it has become available all around the world, albeit at a higher price than other teas.
Like green, oolong, and black tea, white tea comes from the camellia sinensis plant. White tea is a specialty of the Chinese province Fujian. White tea is fast-dried, while green tea is roasted in an oven or pan (while kept moving for even curing). Due to its minimal oxidation process, white tea retains higher concentrations of antioxidant flavonoids (catechins) than green or black tea, and thus is thought to have greater health benefits.
Bai Hao Yinzhen (Silver needle)
The visible white hairs are a unique characteristic of the Bai Hao Yinzhen tea. Bai Hao Yinzhen is a white tea which is chiefly produced in Fujian Province in China with only limited or negligible production outside. It is more commonly known just as Yinzhen. Amongst white teas this is the most expensive variety and the most prized as only top buds are used to produce the tea.
The highest grade of the Bai Hao Yinzhen should be fleshy, bright colored, and covered with tiny white hairs. The shape should be very uniform, with no stems or leaves. The very best Yinzhen are picked between March 15 and April 10, when it is not raining, and only undamaged and unopened buds are chosen.
This tea is best prepared with below boiling water (at about 75 °C (167 °F)) and produces a slightly viscous glittering pale yellow color with evidence of floating white hairs that reflect light. The flavor and fragrance should be delicate, light, fresh, and slightly sweet. Steeping should be for slightly longer than other white teas, up to 5 minutes, and the amount of tea to be used is usually higher. The taste is very mild.
Bai Mu Dan (White Peony)
Bai Mu Dan is a white tea that includes new leaves as well as the center needle sprout. While widely considered to be a lower grade than Yinzhen, this is actually a separate category of white tea that includes grades of its own. Bai Mu Dan style is often preferred by white tea drinkers for its fuller flavor and greater potency than the Bai Hao Yinzhen style tea.
The processing rules require this tea only be picked between March 15 and April 10. It is not picked on days that may be raining or if the dew has not dried or if there is frost on the ground. No purple buds are allowed and the stems must not be too long or too short. Leaves damaged by wind, handling, insects, or partially open are rejected and put into a lower grade. The best Bai Mu Dan is produced using the "two leaves and a bud" proportion and is naturally or mechanically withered to produce leaves that are not black or red but green in color.
A very mild peony aroma is apparent when brewing the tea. The brew is a very pale green or golden color. It is fruity and darker than Silver Needle, yet not as strong as Shou Mei. The finest quality should have a shimmering clear infusion with a delicate lingering fragrance and a fresh, mellow, sweet taste devoid of astringency and grassy flavors.
Shou Mei (Noble, Long Life Eyebrow)
Shou Mei is produced from naturally withered upper leaf and tips, with a stronger flavor reminiscent of lighter Oolong teas. It is mostly grown in the Fujian Province or Guangxi Province in China. Because it is plucked later than Bai Mu Dan the tea may be darker in color, but it should still have a proportionate green color. Some lower grades of Shou Mei may be golden in color with many black and red leaves, making a darker brew.
Brewing Guide: White teas should be prepared with 185 °F (85 °C) water (not boiling) and steeped for around four minutes. Generally, around 2 grams (0.071 oz) to 2.5 grams (0.088 oz) of tea per 200 ml (6 ounces) of water, or about 1.5 teaspoons of white tea per cup, should be used.
Temperature is crucial: If it is too hot, the brew will be bitter and the finer flavors will be overpowered. Antioxidants are destroyed at temperatures close to the boiling point, and the tea becomes astringent and loses some of its best qualities as the leaves are cooked.