No Leaf Unturned: White Tea


Elegant and esteemed for their natural sweetness, white teas express tea's pure, noble character. Slightly oxidized, white teas are neither rolled nor fired like other types of tea. They are picked early in the spring season and allowed to simply air dry, or wither, on woven rattan trays with controlled air flow, temperature and humidity. The moisture content inside white tea leaves evaporates slowly over the course of 1-2 days of withering, curing the leaves in their own juices and concentrating the present sweetness.

White tea is picked only during the first weeks of the spring harvest when the tender leaves contain the energy and sugars of new growth. These young leaves are coated in a soft downy hair known to botanists astrichomes, which protect the tender shoots from pests and bright UV rays. They also lend a soft mouth feeling and cotton candy-like sweetness to the brewed tea. Known in Chinese as bái háo("white hair"), trichomes give the young buds a silvery-white appearance. This is why they are called "white teas."
The Category Colors of Tea

Tea Leaves undergoing the withering process

Silver Needle Bai Hao white tea The absence of shaping presents two main styles of white tea, depending on the plucking standard used. Silver Needle consists of "single buds," which are new tea leaves that have not yet opened. White Peony, on the other hand, is made with "one leaf and a bud" or "two leaf and a bud" plucking standards. It is "leafier" in appearance than Silver Needle.

White tea originated in the eastern Chinese province of Fujian, north of the Min River in a town called Zhenghe. Many white teas are still produced here as well as in neighboring Fuding town. Over the past ten years white tea production has spread outside of Fujian province to other regions.

With its elegance and refined, stimulating energy, white tea has long been revered as a "scholar's tea." So set aside a few quite moments of focus to savor this classical category.