Types of White Tea
Premium white tea is made primarily from the freshest shoots of yet unopened tea leaves and with minimal processing. Organic white tea can be described as the most pristine form of tea. Not much is done to the leaf - just withering in the sun, piling it up for a while for slight oxidation to set in and then gently baked. No rigorous rolling, pan-frying or shaping.
The body that the tea yields in a cup is very light. White tea is generally savored by those who love delicate teas. Also it has drawn many tea drinkers for its purported health benefits.
Although the process of manufacturing white tea is few and straightforward, there are many types white tea that has evolved in the tea world over the years. We will look at white teas that we offer as an example of the variety that is out there.
(Click on the names of the tea to go to the store.)
Himalayan White Tea - Jun Chiyabari Tea Estate, Nepal
With a high concentration of buds this exquisite organic white tea from the famous Jun Chiayabari tea estate of Nepal is a delight to behold and sip.
The current crop is from the early spring 2019 harvest. Delicate teas tend produced during early spring tastes much better and are highly prized. What they lack in body is made up by the refined flavors.
The Himalayan White tea has an earthy character with mellow honey and wildflower notes. It is very clean on the palate, leaving your mouth cool and refreshed like a zephyr from the mountains where this tea comes. If you steep it a bit longer it develops a crispness which is delightful.
Nan Mei White Tea - Yunnan, China
A unique white tea made from buds from "wild" tea trees. The bud-sets are unusual looking.
Some experts claim that this is not from the more familiar assam or chinese variety of camellia sinensis, the tea plant. But that it comes from an altogether different and little known variety "dehungensis." This variety of white tea is found only in Yunnan province of China. Sometimes it is labeled as Camellia assamica dehongensis, suggesting it is from the assam family. However, the correct nomenclature would be camellia sinensis var. dehungensis.
Dried and lightly oxidized in the sun, the tea yields a sweet spicy freshness. Right from the aroma of the dry leaves, as you open the tea pouch, to the sight of the steeping leaves and the complex flavors in the cup this tea is very satisfying. Our supplier of the tea claims that this tea contains no caffeine! That is truly interesting because white tea contains the most caffeine compared to other teas.
Unfortunately, we are currently out of this tea.
Silver Needle White Tea - Yunnan, China
With a stunningly beautiful appearance Silver Needle white tea is one of the most treasured teas of China. Here you can clearly see that this tea is made 100% from leaf buds.
The delicate floral and fruity aromas are prized and traditionally it was manufactured exclusively in Fujian Province. These days Silver Needle white tea is produced in other parts of China too. (I saw a Darjeeling variety during my visit to the region in 2019).
Our Silver Needle is certified Organic white tea and comes from Yunnan Province, the birth place of tea. The leaf yields a yellow liquor with fruity notes of melon and honey. A subtle undertone of earthiness lends body, which adds a nice complexity to the tea. There is a lingering sweet finish.
Shou Mei is a very interesting form of white tea. It is made from more mature leaves of the same tea plant that is used for making Silver Needle white tea.
The tea leaves for shou mei white tea are larger and older and quite a few stems are to be found. What would normally result in a crude tea, is turned in the hands of skillful tea maker and the terroir into a highly enjoyable cup. The body of the cup is more fuller than another other green tea and it is surprisingly sweet.
The leaves for this white tea have very few buds. It is sun dried, piled for slight oxidation and then lightly baked before being compressed into cakes. The latter is a technique more used for making post-fermented teas; pu-erh tea. The flavor of shou mei tea recalls the maple syrup, dried fruits like date and the smell of the fall season.
The last organic white tea in our offerings is a is a flavored and blended tea that is popular with many of our customers.
The white tea used in this blend is White Peony or Bai Mu Dan in Chinese. This form of white tea comprises of both buds and leaves. This is done so that it is more affordable than a Silver Needle white tea. You fill find a lot of open tea leaves in this tea due to lack of rolling. The tea leaves are blended with peach and quince, which enhances the natural peachiness of the tea.
What is wonderful about tea is that within every category there is a huge diversity. White tea is no exception. Depending upon the cultivar, region and style of processing there are many interesting versions of the tea. In our line up of white teas - as with other categories of tea - we have curated them not only for quality but to best represent this diversity.