White TeaWikipedia: White_tea | Wikicha: White_Tea | Teaviews: white-tea
Updated: Mar. 16, 2015
About White Tea
Silver needle or Bai Hao Yinzhen is a white tea consisting exclusively of tips.
, called baicha
(白茶) in Chinese, is a type of tea that is produced by letting the leaves wither and wilt, then drying them. Unlike green tea
, white tea is not heated to kill the enzymes that cause oxidation
Although this means that white tea is less processed than green tea, the lack of heating allows some oxidation to occur, creating a slightly darker color than most green teas, and less of the vibrant green color.
Different definitions of white tea
There is no universally accepted definition of white tea; the classification of teas as either white or green can be subjective, especially for intermediate types of tea such as snow buds (xue ya)
. Sometimes, white teas are classified as a sub-type of green tea, since most white teas are mostly unoxidized, but we believe that classifying them in different categories is more accurate because their production process is distinct, and because they are often more oxidized than typical green tea.
Some organizations, including some tea companies, and the Tea Association of the U.S.
, define white tea so as to only include teas including leaf tips or buds, which excludes most of the darkest-colored white teas; we do not use this definition since these teas are still minimally processed like other white teas.
Flavor and aroma
Some white teas, like this large-leaf tea from India, have a darker color, reflecting more oxidation of the leaf.
White tea is often described as having a very subtle and delicate aroma, but this is not always true. White teas are quite diverse, with some styles, like shou mei
being rich and dark, often described as similar to oolong
Lighter white teas have aromatic notes, like melon, that are uncommon in other types of teas. White teas often lack the grassy characteristics of green teas, and they lack both the toasty character of pan-fired or baked green teas, as well as the vegetal characteristics of steamed teas. Darker white teas often have aromas resembling autumn leaves.
The flavor and aromas of white teas are particularly diverse if you look at types outside the historical centers of production in Fujian province.
Origins and production
White tea originated in China
, and most of the world's white tea is produced there, a large portion of it in Fujian province
, particularly, in the northern parts, including Fuding
. However, in recent years, due to the surging popularity of white tea, white teas have become available from numreous other regions, including India
, Sri Lanka (Ceylon)
, and Malawi
Some of these teas emulate traditional Chinese styles, especially silver needle, and sometimes white peony. Others, however, are novel, fitting into the broader traditions and production methods of white tea but taking on a character of their own.
Caffeine content of white tea: myths and reality
Many websites claim that white tea contains less caffeine than black or green teas. This is a widespread myth; the caffeine content
of white teas, like other teas, varies greatly from one tea to the next. White teas with a large portion of buds, such as silver needle
, tend to have more caffeine than those with a larger portion of mature leaves, as the young tips are highest in caffeine. As white teas, particularly those made exclusively of tips, are very mild in flavor, they can also be brewed very strongly, resulting in a very high caffeine content of the brewed cup.
Varieties, Kinds, or Types of White Tea
Best White Tea
The notion of the "best" White Tea is subjective, because different people have different tastes. We present the most often-rated and highest-rated teas in this category, and allow you to draw your own conclusions.
Most Often-Rated Teas