White Tea Information and Facts
Six Myths Debunked

Six white tea information and facts you didn't know about. Is it the least processed tea? How to make a perfect cup of tea?

Myth: Relatively new in the West

White Tea Information and Facts #1:
Exported from China as early as 1891

white tea informationWhite tea is a curious phenomena. It is simultaneously a young and old tea.

Ancient Chinese sun-dried tea before storing for later consumption. This is white tea processing in its most primitive.

Modern white tea was invented in China in 1857, then exported worldwide from 1891 onwards.

Those were the glory days.

White tea went into steep decline during the two world wars, and has only recently recaptured its allure in the West.

Myth: Least processed of all teas

White Tea Information and Facts #2:
Least cooked of all teas

All types of tea undergo two processes: fixation and rolling.

During fixation, high heat is applied to kill the enzymes and stop the oxidation. During rolling, tea leaves are massaged into various shapes.

White tea does not go through any of these.

It is left to wither in dormant condition for 1 to 3 days, during which temperature, humidity and air-flow are strictly controlled to allow fresh leaves to mature.

In contrast, high grade greens are often made in the same day.

Compared to green and oolong teas, white tea is heavily withered. So it is the least "cooked" and "rolled," but not necessarily least processed.

Myth: Most unoxidised of all teas

White Tea Information and Facts #3:
Slightly oxidised

It is popularly quoted that white tea has powerful antioxidants and anti-bacterial properties owed to its unoxidised conditions.

In many people's mind, least processed means least oxidised.

Well, green tea is the only unoxidised tea. It is withered for a short period of time, before high heat is applied to kill the enzymes and stop the oxidation process.

White tea undergoes withering for relatively long amount of time. It is therefore slightly oxidised, not unoxidised as many people thought.

Myth: More health benefits than green tea

White Tea Information and Facts #4:
Too early to say

Among all types of tea, green tea is associated with the widest range of health benefits.

White tea studies are at an early stage. I am able to dig out only 4 white tea studies. If I were to apply the same effort to green tea, I would find 400.

It is true that preliminary studies have found white tea to be more effective than green tea in preventing cancer and killing germs.

But with this handful of studies, it really is too early to say.

Humans do not live in petri dishes. We do not react to tea the same way as mice or bacteria.

Myth: Rare and expensive

White Tea Information and Facts #5:
High grade gourmet greens are rarer

White tea has more buds than leaves. These buds are only available in tiny quantities. Green tea is good, but white tea is rarer and more expensive.

It is all very persuasive, isn't it?

It really depends on which green tea you are talking about. Green tea that you buy off the supermarket shelf? Gunpowder green tea? Yes, they are not rare.

Enter the world of Chinese gourmet green tea.

Take the priciest white tea - Silver Needle, and compare it other gourmet Chinese green tea such as Xihu Longjing tea or the Taiping Houkui tea, and you will find that these green teas are far rarer and cost much more.

In fact, they cost so much that the highest grades seldom make it to the West.

These greens come in all shapes and forms: single buds, one-bud-one-leaf, one-bud-two-leaves, just like the whites.

Myth: Brew at low temperature

White Tea Information and Facts #6
Brew at higher temperature

Now comes the most important bit. How to brew a perfect cup of white tea?

Many experts recommend brewing it like the delicate greens at 70 to 80 degrees Celsius.

White tea is not that delicate.

White tea plants produce buds and leaves that are fat and thick. It takes higher temperature and longer steeping time to soak out the flavors.

Our recommendation? Try to brew it closer to boiling point, from 90 to 100 degree Celsius or 190 to 210 Fahrenheit.

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