White tea is a lightly oxidized tea grown and harvested almost exclusively in China, primarily in the Fujian province.
White tea comes from the delicate buds and younger leaves of the Chinese Camellia sinensis plant. These buds and leaves are allowed to wither in natural sunlight before they are lightly processed to prevent oxidation or further fermentation. White Tea is also produced from Camellia Assamica and also from the cambod tea plants. White tea does not require does not require panning, rolling or shaking like other teas. This preserves the characteristic flavour of the white tea. Some popular varieties of white teas include – Silver Needle (Baihao Yinzhen), White Peony (Bai Mudan), etc.
The name "white tea" derives from the fine silvery-white hairs on the unopened buds of the tea plant, which gives the plant a whitish appearance.
What does it taste like ?
White tea is paler in color and has less aroma than black and green tea. Its flavor is light and slightly sweet. One will not find a white tea with the bold flavors you can find in black and green teas. If brewed properly, it has no bitterness and no after taste. In addition, it lacks the grassy flavor that you often find in green tea.
Because white tea is derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, it contains polyphenols, a phytonutrient that is thought to be responsible for the tea’s health benefits.
White tea contains high levels of catechins, a polyphenol compound that is responsible for lessening atherosclerotic plaques, reducing carcinogens, reducing risk of stroke, heart failure, cancer (including tumor formation) and diabetes. It is believed to have anti-ageing properties and for the protection of skin from damage caused by UV light. It is also believed to be helpful in rheumatoid arthritis.
Catechins, a group of polyphenol antioxidants found in white tea, have been found to increase cholesterol, increase blood pressure, and hinder the function of blood vessels, thereby increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Fewer people are familiar with white tea in part because over the years there’s been far less white tea grown and processed than other teas. In fact, many years ago white tea was reserved for use at the highest tea ceremonies, and was considered tea for the elite.
Currently, less white tea is grown in the world than other types of tea. However, as it gains popularity, it’s likely that more of a tea garden’s harvest may be devoted to white tea.