White Tea: The Basics

 

Now that we have discussed Green Tea and Black Tea, let’s move on to the subtlest of all the teas – White Tea. White Tea is perfect for those who love delicate flavors that offer a complex tasting experience. People who have been drinking tea for years and can tell the subtle differences between tea varietals usually love White Teas. In addition, people who believe they have refined palates also love White Teas. Any way you look at it, White Tea is something that every tea drinker should know about.

  

White Tea comes from the Camellia Sinensis plant

 
I know I am getting redundant here, but for whatever reason people always forget this fact. The only difference between White Tea and other teas is the way it is processed. The processing is the only difference between Black, Oolong, White, Pu-erh and Green Teas. The most important step in tea processing is oxidation.

  

Why “White Tea” is light in color

 
With most teas, after the tea leaves are plucked from the plant, they are allowed to oxidize. If you remember, oxidation is the process a banana goes through when it turns from green to black. With White Tea, the tea does not oxidize at all. Each leaf is simply plucked from the plant and dried. This is why White Tea has such a light color.

  

What White Tea tastes like

 
White Teas should have a light body and a sweet flavor. A lot of people think they taste like sugar-scented water. But don’t let the light flavor fool you. White Teas have a complex flavor that evolves as it sits on your tongue. While it is light on the front palate, White Tea tends to have long finishes that linger on your tongue for minutes after your first sip.

  

Different styles of White Tea

 
Almost all White Tea comes from one country. While there are other countries that produce White Tea, the most popular forms come from the Fujian Province in China. The following are the two main styles of White Tea:

  • White Peony (Bai Mu Dan) – Using full tea leaves, this is a fuller bodied White Tea with a sweet and smooth flavor.
  • Silver Needle (Baihao Yinzhen) – This famous tea uses only 100% tea buds. The buds create a complex yet subtle flavor that people go crazy for. The best Silver Needles are hand plucked to only include the plumpest, most flavorful tea buds.

 

Health Benefits

 
Since White Tea is the least processed of teas, the traditional belief is that it is the healthiest. While this is debated with new studies showing that all tea is equally healthy, just remember that White Tea is one of the healthiest things you can drink. Some of the health benefits linked to White Tea that studies have shown deal with lowering carcinogens, fighting off viruses and keeping your skin looking young and healthy.

 

photo:www.flickr.com/photos/yakubovich/4421828878

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