White Tea

Tea 201 - White Tea - Downy Buds

White Tea Leaves

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 teas.  White 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:


Morning Cup #40 - Organic Apricot White Tea

Morning Cup Logo

The tea for this morning is an Apricot White Tea from Touch Organic.

This light white tea has subtle overtones of apricot throughout the experience with a smooth mouthfeel. The aroma smells heavily of stone fruits such as apricot or nectarine and the flavor is similar with some playfulness in the finish.

What's in your cup?

Morning Cup #32 - White Orchard

Morning Cup Logo

Today's cup is White Orchard from Mighty Leaf Tea.

This Sri Lankan Green Tea (Sri Lanka used to be called Ceylon) is light, not grassy or vegetal. Sadly it's a bit nondescript. Somewhere between a Dragonwell (Lung Ching) and a Kukicha to be honest. I'm not really sure what to think about it.

What's in your cup?

Chinese Tea Mythology: Bai Hao - White Fur Silver Needle

Worth its weight in gold…

This tea is made from the unopened and pre-blossomed buds of the tea leaves.   They get their description from the silky white hairs above their bodies.  These white hairs signify young leaves.  In order to retrieve such ‘budlings’ there is only a two day window in which they can be picked.

These leaves look like they belong in the green tea family; however, they are not processed the same way.  White teas are air dried unlike green teas are picked, rolled, withered and then fired before further oxidation happens.  The white teas are processed less in order to preserve the purity of the leaf.  It takes approximately 3000 buds and hours of hand labor to make a pound of White Tea.  Thus it is worth its weight in gold.

Worth its weight in gold!

Worth its weight in gold!


This rare tea was only given to royalty and was revered for its purity.  The popularity of this white tea reached its peak during the era of the Chinese Emperor Hui Tsung (1101-1125 A. D.).  Legend has it this Emperor loved this rare tea.  In the pursuit of searching for the perfect cup, the perfect brew, the obsessed Emperor lost his empire to the invading Mongols.

Imagine that, dear readers, losing your empire over a cup of good tea.  Though based on the aforementioned attempt of maintaining the purity of the leaf, it must be worth it.  What do you think?

2011 World Tea Expo (Day 2)

This year's World Tea Expo is my 3rd trip to this event. I've appreciated the opportunities to learn and meet new people each year. I've made friends and contacts from every corner of the world and every continent save for Antarctica. The events and sights from this first day of the expo are similar to those from the past two years. Full of energy, vibrant colors and effusive scents tantalizing for everyone here. Read more to learn more.

Check out my coverage of both Day 1 and Day 3 of the 2011 World Tea Expo.