White Tea is known to be one of the lightest and most delicate teas. For reason being that it is so minimally processed. The white tea bushes are harvested for only a few weeks in the spring and are handpicked between mid-March and early April. When plucked, the plant leaves are barely opened, and the buds are covered by fine, white hairs. After picking, they are left to wither, and air dry either in the sun or a controlled indoor environment. The withering process cannot take longer than 72 hours to decrease the amount of oxidation. The more prolonged tea is exposed to oxygen, the darker their leaves will be. Minimal processing and oxidation produce tea that is delicate and fresh in both texture and flavor.
China and many other outside countries are cultivating many unique types of white tea. These are some of the most popular white teas available:
Bai Hao Yin Zhen (Silver Needle): Silver Needles comes from the original variety of tea plants in Fujian, China. The tea buds are full and covered in fine, white hairs that give it a silver appearance, hence the name. This tea is highly sought-after for its delicate and delicious aroma and flavor.
Bai Mudan (White Peony): White Peony originated in China but can also be cultivated in different countries around the world. Although newer to the white tea family, White Peony is one of the more popular white teas. The buds are blended with unfurled young tea leaves, which gives it a fresh and sweet flavor.
Darjeeling White Tea: This tea plant is one of the few white teas that did not originate in China. Instead, it was harvested in the Darjeeling region of India. Although the processing techniques are similar, the tea has a nuttier and bolder mouthfeel.
Da Bai Cha (Fujian New Craft): This is one of the newest white tea varieties, as it was harvested in the 1960’s. Like most white teas, it was cultivated in the Fujian province. Fujian New Craft tea is rolled after the withering process and dried longer than most white teas. This method gives the tea a darker appearance. It is less delicate, and while the fragrance is subtle, the flavor is perhaps the most robust of the white tea family.