White tea is the least processed of all teas, and because of this it actually retains the largest quantities of antioxidants, known as polyphenols. White tea has gained popularity in recent years as a result of these high antioxidant qualities but White tea has actually been around for more than a thousand years. Although White Tea originated in China the increased awareness of its health properties and interest around the world has seen it also being produced in other countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Africa and others.
Some may question where the description of ‘White Tea’ comes from and you’ll find it originated from the appearance of the silvery/white down which covers the newly formed tea bud. It’s actually the tea bud that is most often used in the production of white tea – although sometimes the first, second and occasionally the third leaf can also be used, depending on the type of White Tea being produced. Generally, those produced using the buds tend to be silvery/white in appearance and also more expensive.
White teas are very light in appearance when brewed and also have a light and refreshing taste on the palate. They are lower in caffeine than the standard black and green teas so can be popular for those a little sensitive to too much caffeine at night. If the taste is a little too light for your liking, you can also reap the same health benefits from flavoured varieties.
White Tea is best prepared similar to green tea. The delicate leaves can be destroyed by water that is too hot and in turn cause a slightly bitter taste. The optimum temperature of your hot water should be 75-80 degrees celcius but if you don’t have a temperature controlled kettle the simple thing to do is turn your water off shortly before it boils and pour a little cold tap water over the leaves before pouring your hot water (this will help to further protect the leaves from burning if the water is too hot – which is what causes the slightly bitter taste). Alternatively, if your water has boiled then simply allow it to cool for a couple of minutes and once again pour a little cold tap water over your leaves first. Brew for 5 – 7 minutes on average and with a good quality White Tea you can actually re-brew the same leaves 3-4 times – must be in the same day. So although White Tea can be a little more expensive to buy, being able to re-brew the leaves several times in a day helps to make it a little more economical.