White teas: traditional, bud-set loose leaf – Baihao Yinzhen (White Needle) & newer styles – Pai Mu Tan (White Peony). Also Assam and Ceylon varieties.
These extraordinary white teas are harvested for only a few days each year when the buds are white with the down of new growth. They are just withered, then dried, often out in the sun and gentle breezes. They are not rolled, in fact great care is taken to avoid bruising them. The buds and young leaves have low caffeine levels, the tea hardly oxidising. White teas are very pale tea with a distinctly delicate flavour. White tea is the purest of green teas containing white buds of the emerging young tea leaves. It is very rare as it can be picked on only a few days of the year when the weather conditions are right.
China is justly famous for its beautifully subtle and young white teas. Fujian Province is home to the famous white tea Baihao Yinzhen – White Down Silver Needles, this truly is the white tea of emperors and is only harvested if the climatic conditions are perfect. White teas have their spiritual home in Fujian Province although production has extended beyond to Anhui, Zhejiang and Yunnan provinces. The latter produces the lovely White Dragon. Famous growing areas of India such as Assam and Darjeeling have also developed considerable skills in the production of superb white teas. We have an example of each as well as a traditionally produced budset Ceylon white tea.
To make white tea use boiled water that has come off the boil for two minutes. Infuse from three to seven minutes. White tea is best drunk after an evening meal or late at night. White teas contain around the same level of caffeine as green teas. This makes them good for drinking late at night.