Of all the tea categories white tea seems to be one of the most misunderstood, and yet quite neatly, the simplest of all. From bud to cup, it is the most minimally crafted of all the camellia sinensis tea categories. Very plainly, high quality white tea is the first glorious bud of spring, plucked carefully after emerging from a short winter dormancy.
Awakening in the spring, the tea plant shoots out the bud of new life which carries the energy, nutrients and glucose needed to develop into leaves and if plucked and dried, has the potential to make a most delicious cup of tea. The bud itself or 'tip' is covered with a soft downy fur, called 'trinomes', that defend against water loss and bugs. Caffeine and polyphenols also act as natural deflecting agents against insects and UV rays.
White tea buds are carefully plucked and brought to a factory to be withered and dried. It is a short recipe that requires, for good result, the original product to be treated well after it's departure from a very carefully tended tea garden. It is also a tea of prestige, the spring buds are the most precious, and the yield of harvesting only the bud, is so minimal. The varietals used in white tea production in China are the results of years of propagation to reach the desired profile and the polyphenol and caffeine levels are higher than what is often marketed.
Classically, the finest white teas come from Fujian Province, China, but we are also experiencing white teas being produced well in other parts of Asia, Hawaii and South America.
We carry two white teas, Bai Mu Dan Wang (pictured here), also called White Peony, which consists of buds and leaves, from Fuding, Fujian Province. Also from Fuding, Bai Hao Yin Zhen (also known as Silver Needles) is the result of more punctilious harvesting, and consists of pure bud. Nan Mei Wild Tea Trees, from Lincang, Yunnan Province, is the result of the harvesting of wild old tea tree buds and takes quite a bit longer steep than the others.
When steeping white tea, we suggest measuring the quantity of tea by weight, not by volume as with teaspoons. This is important because white tea is very voluminous, and measuring by weight will give you a much richer cup of tea.
Our recommended steeping times for 2.5 grams of tea per 8oz:
Bai Hao Yin Zhen 185° / 3 minutes
Bai Mu Dan Wang 185° / 3 minutes
Nan Mei Wild Tea Trees 185° / 5 - 7 minutes
Scented White Teas:
The Canfield in Red 185° / 3 minutes
Yaddo Rose Garden 185° / 3 minutes
For continued enjoyment, re-steep the leaves!