What Is White Tea?
White tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant just like black tea, green tea and oolong tea. It is one fo the five tea types that are called true teas. Before the white tea leaves open, the buds are harvested for the production of white tea. These buds are usually covered by minuscule white hairs, which lend their name to tea. White tea is mainly harvested in the Fujian province of China, but there are also producers in Sri Lanka, India, Nepal and Thailand.
True teas all come from the leaves of the same plant, so the difference between teas is based on two things: the terroir (the region in which the plant is grown) and the production process.
One of the differences in the production process of each true tea is the amount of time the leaves are allowed to oxidize. Tea masters can roll, crush, roast, fire and steam leaves to aid in the oxidation process.
As mentioned, white tea is the most minimally processed of the true teas and thus doesn't undergo a long oxidation process. In contrast to the long oxidation process of black tea, which results in a dark, rich color, white teas simply wither and dry in the sun or a controlled environment to preserve the garden-fresh nature of the herb.
Since white tea is minimally processed, it features a delicate flavor profile with a soft finish and a pale yellow color. It has a slightly sweet flavor. When brewed properly, it doesn't have any bold or bitter taste. There are several different varietals, which have fruity, vegetal, spicy and floral hints.
Types of White Tea
There are two main types of white tea: Silver Needle and White Peony. However, there are several other white teas including Long Life Eyebrow and Tribute Eyebrow along with artisanal white teas such as Ceylon White, African White and Darjeeling White. Silver Needle and White Peony are considered to be the most superior when it comes to quality.