Tea 201 – White Tea – Downy Buds

white tea Tea 201   White Tea   Downy Buds

White Tea Leaves

White tea is the youngest harvested buds of the Camellia sinensis plant almost exclusively in the Fujian province of China.  It gets its name from the down white hairs that are found on the leaves.  The liquor itself is the most pale of teas and it is known for its mild taste and fresh scent.

White tea is very delicate.  Because of this fact, you should use filtered water that is brought to a high temperature, but not boiling.  A good rule of thumb (if you don’t have a thermometer to test for 140 to 165ºF) is to bring it to a boil and then let it cool for at least a minute.

White tea was discovered between 960 and 1279 AD during the Song dynasty.  The Chinese discovered that the youngest buds of the tea leaves produced a mild and refreshing taste.  In the beginning, it was tea reserved for the Emperor.  In fact according to legend, the Emperor Hui Zong became so obsessed with this tea that he lost his Empire while in obsessive pursuit of the perfect cup.

White tea went relatively unknown outside of China for years.  The popularity of white tea in the west is only a recent occurrence.  The tea’s popularity grew when health conscious people were finding the health benefits of white teasWhite tea is rare because of the strict rules on harvesting and processing.

There are quite a few varieties of white tea based on several factors.  The Silver Needle is the most sought after.  This tea can only be harvested during a brief window in the early spring right before the tea buds turn into leaves.  Long Life Eyebrow is considered in the lesser member of the white tea variety.  It is harvested after the time period of Silver Needle and White Peony.  Tribute Eyebrow is similar to Long Life but is considered to have a darker appearance.  White Peony is the second highest of quality and is harvested when there is only a bud and two leaves.  Lastly, there is Snowbud which is only harvested when there are only buds and leaves in the early spring.

In the end, you’re going to have to experience them for yourselves in terms of flavor.  If you are interested in potential health benefits here’s a link:

http://www.whitetea.com/benefits-of-white-tea.php

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