Image: White tea infusion with chamomile flower scent
White teas are delicate and much-prized teas, made from young, unopened tea buds that are hand-plucked and withered to remove some moisture, then gently dried. The curled buds have a silvery-white appearance.
Originally grown only in the Fujian mountains, white teas are now manufactured in other major tea-producing countries such as India, Kenya, Malawi, and Sri Lanka.
The liquor is pale like Champagne. The flavor is soft and smooth, often with a hint of peach pit and the lingering sweetness of honey.
According to the different standards of picking and manufacturing, most white teas can be classified as either Yin Zhen (only bud) or Pai Mu Tan (two leaves and a bud).
The growing popularity of white tea and the acknowledgement of its apparent health benefits have led to a proliferation of ready-to-drink white-tea beverages. A good selection might include,
Silver Needle (Yin Zhen) is a classic Chinese white tea; consists only of stout buds covered with silvery hairs. The liquor is low in caffeine but high in healthy polyphenols. Silver Needle teas are very expensive but can be infused several times.
Pai Mu Tan (or Bai Mu Dan) also known as White Peony, is more abundant and is a less-expensive form of white tea. For this variation, the top two very young leaves are gently plucked along with the unopened bud. The pickings are sun-dried to keep the tea in its purest form. The lightly oxidized tea produces a very pale liquor. Many American tea purveyors blend this tea with fruit flavours.
Darjeeling White Tea First produced in 2000 and available in limited quantities from several estates, these young spring teas resemble the Chinese White Peony, but the taste is a bit deeper and nuttier than that of the Chinese productions.