What is White Tea?
Scientific Name – Camellia sinensis
Native – China (Fujian province), Eastern Nepal, Eastern Thailand, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, and India
Curious about the history behind the origin of white tea?
Well, white tea was born as an accident some 5,000 years ago in China. It so happened that while traveling along the countryside, the emperor Shen Nung suddenly felt thirsty, and was provided with boiled water. Unfortunately (or rather, fortunately), some leaves of white tea flew and fell into the pot of water, giving it a distinct and likable flavor. The emperor took an instant liking to this particular drink and asked the inhabitants to search for the origin of this particular leaf. And thus, our special white tea was born!
Is White Tea Good For You?
Yes, white tea is very good for your health in numerous ways. In addition to aiding weight loss and helping in the treatment of diabetes, white tea is beneficial in numerous ways. These include improving skin and hair health, treating acne, helping treat cancer, reducing inflammation, improving the health of liver and kidneys, maintaining reproductive health, keeping the heart healthy, enhancing memory, energy, and alertness, supporting the treatment of hypothyroidism, and improving oral health.
Types Of White Tea
Sometimes, knowing about the types and varieties of tea help you find the perfect tea for you. Read on to know about main types of white tea along with other available teas across the world.
- Bai Hao Yinzhen (Silver Needle)
- Bai Mu Dan (White Peony)
- Shou Mei (Noble, Long Life Eyebrow)
- Gong Mei (Tribute Eyebrow)
- White Puerh Tea
1. Bai Hao Yinzhen (Silver Needle)
This royal variety is the most cherished one in China and the world. Grown in the Fujian Province of China, the silver needle leaves are approx. 30 mm in length and the buds are covered with visible silvery hairs. This is why it occupies the top position in the hierarchy of white teas, making it the most expensive variety.
The best white tea leaves are plucked in spring, especially from the middle of March to the middle of April when it is not pouring.
The top characteristic of the best brewed silver needle white tea is the pale yellow hue that comes with the best temperature of water (75 degrees Celsius). You can invariably see the white hairs dangling off the leaves under the light.
Silver needle white tea carries a light, delicate, fresh, and sweet taste. Make sure you add two to three teaspoons of tea leaves and steep this tea for a longer time (five to eight minutes) to extract the best out of it.
2. Bai Mu Dan (White Peony)
This variety is slightly different from the one described above. It includes new leaves as well as the center needle sprout of the plant. While it is widely accepted as the cheaper counterpart of silver needle white tea, you may be surprised to know that this white peony tea is actually preferred by white tea lovers because of its full flavor and lower cost.
The plucking process of this tea is similar to that of silver needle, focusing on the spring season without rains. The best white peony is derived from the proportion of ‘two-leaves-to-a-bud’ and is withered to make green leaves, which eventually make the tea.
While brewing this tea, you will be able to identify a distinct aroma that will make you feel all good and light-hearted. The tea is known for its pale green/ golden color and fruity taste that is devoid of grassy flavors.
3. Shou Mei (Noble, Long Life Eyebrow)
The last category of Chinese white tea is the Shou Mei, which comes from naturally withered upper leaves and tips of white trees. This tea, similar to the silver needle, is grown in the Fujian Province in China and is known worldwide for its greenish color and full flavor. The inferior qualities generally give a dark golden hue to the brew and must be avoided.
4. Gong Mei (Tribute Eyebrow)
This variety is generally taken to be the third preference amongst tea lovers. Gong Mei is more processed than the other two variants mentioned above. It comes from Xiao Bai (small white) trees consisting of young leaves that are slightly bent (hence the name ‘Eyebrows’) and no buds.
This variety has a dark golden color and full flavor and is often served with dim sums.
5. White Puerh Tea
This variety is grown in the mountain peaks of Yunnan Province in China and is plucked in spring. Every step of harvesting this variety is done by hand. It is known for its rich and sweet taste and imparts an amazing aroma.
Other Types of White Teas
As we discussed earlier, there are different other types of white tea that are grown all across the globe. Let’s take a look.
1. Ceylon White
As the name suggests, this tea is grown in the SriLankan region and is considered to be one of the top varieties, making it super expensive. It is grown and harvested by hand, and thus can be called an artisan’s work. The leaves are sun-dried and then rolled gently with hands.
Ceylon white or silver tips tea is known for its delicate and light flavor with light coppery hues.
2. Darjeeling White
Just like Ceylon white tea, Darjeeling white tea is also an artisan’s work and is grown in a rainy climate. The leaves are super fluffy and light and impart fragrance like honey.
A cup of Darjeeling white tea has a delicate flavor and scent, is pale golden in color, and is really yummy to our taste buds.
3. Assam White
A rare variety that is grown the region of Assam and carries very light leaves. The brewed Assam white tea gives out a naturally sweet and malty taste.
4. African White
This variety is grown the Kenyan and Malawi regions of Africa and has a rich and distinct flavor that appeals to many. The caffeine content in this type is higher than that in other varieties.
Properties Of White Tea
Let us now look at the important white tea properties here:
- Antioxidants – The level of antioxidants in white tea is similar to that of green and black tea.
- Epigallocatechin Gallate And Other Catechins – White tea contains a variety of active catechins including EGCG, which is very useful in fighting chronic diseases like cancer.
- Tannins – While the levels of tannins are lower in white tea as compared to the other varieties, it is still useful in warding off a lot of conditions.
- Theaflavins (TFs) – These polyphenols directly contribute to the bitterness and astringency of the tea. The quantity of TFs found in white tea is the lowest when compared to black and green teas. This gives the tea a sweet flavor.
- Thearubigins (TRs) – The mildly acidic thearubigins are mainly responsible for the colour of black tea. They are in less quantity in white tea when compared to black and green teas.
But what is so great about white tea? Keep reading!
White Tea Benefits
1. Helps In Weight Loss
2. Aids In The Treatment Of Acne
3. Can Be Beneficial In Pregnancy
4. Helps In The Treatment Of Cancer
5. Improves Hair And Skin Health
6. Can Help In The Treatment Of Diabetes
7. Enhances Energy And Alertness
8. Helps Reduce Inflammation
9. Can Be Beneficial To The Kidneys
10. Improves Liver Health
11. Is Good For The Heart
12. Is Good For The Teeth
13. Improves Reproductive Health
14. For Hypothyroidism
15. Can Improve Memory
17. Helps In Digestion
You can consume white tea just like your regular tea, and reap the many benefits it offers.