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White Tea: Purity in a Cup

White Tea: Purity in a Cup
Carmen Rotaru

White tea is the most expensive tea variety we can find on the market.  Discover white tea’s secrets concerning its name and its magnificent flavor.

White tea originates in the Fujian region, in China. More recently, tea plant for white tea is also grown in Taiwan, Northern Thailand and Eastern Nepal. White tea originates from the classical Chinese Camellia Sinensis plant. What is special about white tea is that its leaves and buds are very lightly processed to prevent any oxidation or other tea processing.

White tea’s  name doesn’t come from the beverage’s own color after brewing. The name is due to the fine silvery-white hairs on the unopened buds of the tea plant. The actual color of the beverage is a pale yellow.

White Tea History

Historians, tea producers and tea merchants generally disagree when it comes about white tea’s first production and sell. It seems that white tea is a much younger beverage than its sisters, green and black tea. We don’t know for sure when white tea first appeared and when it truly became popular.

Some Chinese historians say that white tea isn’t so new as it is considered to be by its merchants and consumers. Though we aren’t sure about its birth and origins and the historians generally disagree when concerning this topic, it seems that white tea was known and appreciated by the Chinese Tang Dynasty between 618 and 907 AD. It was really popular back then, especially because it became the choice of royal courts.


White tea did not undergo much change until 1885 when farmers developed from the classic tea plant a specific tea bush variety which gave a white tea type named Silver Needle and other special white teas. Chinese exportation of these exquisite teas began very late in 1891.

Other Chinese historians argue that white tea and not green tea is in fact China’s earliest tea. This theory is based on the fact that its processing consists basically of only drying the leaves. This procedure is considered to be one of the first methods that people used to allow the buds to be stored after they were picked.

It seems that white tea was first mentioned in the West in an English publication from 1876 where it was put under the umbrella of black tea due to its distinct preparation from the green tea which was better known.

Nowadays, white tea is often being sold as Silvery Tip Pekoe, a form of its traditional name, and also under the simple designations of China White and Fujian White.

A Story of White Tea Flavor and Varieties

Want to know which is the cheapest variety of white tea? It is the so called powdered tea, also named “fanning” which is the tea that remains after processing the tea leaves, also know as white tea dust. It is the most convenient way to ship tea when it comes to white tea bags. You must be careful with this kind of tea because once it is exposed to air, it oxidizes quickly, so it isn’t very much a qualitative  option.

The highest-quality white tea is kept in whole leaves and carefully packed to be airtight. It is used within 12 months of packaging.

There are of course many white tea varieties, depending on the region of origin, age, flavor, leaves and the processing part. Here some examples of high quality white tea varieties.

Silver Needle Tea is a white tea produced in Fujian Province in China. It is the most expensive tea variety and also the most prized because only top buds or leaf shoots are used to produce this kind of tea.

White Peony Tea is a type of white tea produced from plucks each with one leaf shoot and two immediate young leaves. It is preferred by white tea drinkers for its fuller flavor compared to the other major types of white tea.

Shou Mei Tea is a white tea that is produced from naturally withered upper leaf and tips, featuring a strong flavor which can remind of lighter Oolong teas. Its origins are in the Fujian and Guangxi Provinces in China.

Darjeeling White Tea  features a delicate aroma and brews to a pale golden color with a mellow taste and a touch of sweetness. Because these white tea leaves are very fluffy and light, that is why when brewing a cup we need more leaves than the usual.

How to Prepare a Perfect Cup of White Tea

If you wish to have a quality white tea, use whole tea leaves and not tea bags. It is also important that the plant should be free of any pesticide residue. You must know that there are companies which provide test documentation when clean tea is concerned. About white tea, the fresher, the better.

You should use only pure, natural water, never fluoridated. High levels of fluoridated water are considered to be toxic.

Avoid boiling the hot water. It seems that ingesting high levels of scalding liquid isn’t at all good for the body. Infuse the tea with warm water, not boiling water. The perfect temperature for brewing this kind of tea is 76 to 85 Celsius degrees. When it comes to steeping time the more means the better. For the first cup it’s around 5 to 8 minutes and for the next cups made of reused leaves the time needed goes to 2 up to 3 minutes. You can reuse the white tea leaves up to 3 times.

White Tea Instead of Coffee?

About white tea, it is considered to be very low in caffeine. In fact this is true just for the white tea from Fujian, China. The white tea from this particular region comes from a variety of tea plant which is naturally low in caffeine. But be sure that white tea from other regions aren’t at all so decaff.


A study from 2008  made by Dr. Bruce Branan, Professor of Chemistry at Asbury College, USA concerning the caffeine component of tea revealed that Indian white tea can be even higher in caffeine than Ceylon (Sri Lanka) black tea, which is considered a sort of tea-coffee! While white tea from Fujian may contain as little as 6 to 25 mg of caffeine per cup, other white teas may be closer to 60 mg per cup. Similarly, the claims that white tea is especially high in antioxidants relate to a study on white tea from Fujian, and may not apply to other types of white tea like those originated from India or Sri Lanka.

White tea is considered to be a current popular beverage in the West, especially in North America, becoming a real success and trend.  Have you already tried the white tea variety? If you did, share with us your white story and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to always keep up with the tea world.


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