Spotlight on White Tea

White Peony
White Peony

If you’ve been following the media’s coverage of tea in recent years, you must surely have noticed that at some point green tea pulled ahead of all other varieties when it came to popularity. This was due, in large part, to a number of studies that suggested that green tea might have assorted and sundry health benefits. It’s probably safe to say that green tea still gets more attention than the other varieties, but in recent years some of the spotlight has been diverted to its near cousin – white tea.

White tea will probably never garner the attention that’s been lavished on green, though it’s not for lack of trying on the part of some marketers. Of the six varieties of tea that are derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, you could safely divide them into two main groups, the ones that are lightly processed and those which are more heavily processed. In the latter group we’ll find black tea, puerh and the more processed oolongs. In the latter group, the less processed oolongs, yellow tea, green tea and white tea.

White tea is closer to green or yellow tea than other types, but tends to have a more delicate flavor than either, especially green. White tea is produced from the buds and young leaves of tea plants and because it is less processed than other types of tea is believe to retain more of the healthy compounds that tend to be lost in more heavily processed types.

You can find white tea in various tea-growing regions, such as Ceylon or the Assam region of India, but most of the varieties worth drinking originate in China.

The most popular varieties of white tea come from Fujian province, in China. Silver Needle and White Peony are among the better grades of white tea. Tribute Eyebrow and Noble, Long Life Eyebrow are among the lesser grades of Chinese white tea and Yunnan province, probably best known for black tea and puerh, also turns out a white version of the latter.

Don’t forget to check out William’s blog, Tea Guy Speaks!

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