The apotheosis of tea!
Modern day White teas can be traced to the 18th Century Qing Dynasty.
They differed from other teas because their processing did not incorporate any steaming or pan-firing (see below).
The resulting leaves were therefore thin, small and did not have much silvery-white hair.
It wasn't until 1885 that specific varietals of tea bushes were selected to make White teas.
The large, silvery-white leaves of the Silver Needle (Yin Zhen) came into being in 1891.
The production of White Peony (Pai Mu Tan) began around 1922 and from here, many others followed.
Its exclusivity and unfamiliarity, coupled with a gentle, altogether more subtle taste profile means White tea is only really just beginning to make a significant impact in the UK.
With growing popularity there are also an increasing number of copycat products grown in India and elsewhere in China.
The youngest, tender leaf and bud are handpicked in the garden each harvest and then separated at the point of processing.
There is no steaming or pan-firing involved; the leaves are simply gathered and dried.
Authentic White tea is produced on a very limited scale, picked for only a few weeks each year in the Fujian province of China.
Just like Champagne, White teas is not an authentic product if it is not grown in thisregion.
Typically very light and clean: often with subtle, slightly sweeter notes.
Beware though; their delicate nature will be destroyed by water that is too hot - burning the delicate leaves for an astringent cup.
The ideal water temperature is about 80-85° and steeped for 2-3 minutes.
One serving of white tea can be brewed several times, with each steep revealing another element of flavour. However the key flavour is in the first cup so it is not best practice to re-use the leaves in a fine dining set up.
White teas are said to be higher in antioxidants than any other tea type.
Particularly revered for their anti-aging benefits.
Not to be confused with a black tea + milk!