Harvested while the buds are curled and the leaves are coated in a fine silver-white pekoe (tea hair) - hence the name, white tea is the youngest variety of Camellia sinensis. After plucking, the leaves are immediately withered and dried. White loose leaf tea is the most minimally processed tea of all the loose leaf varieties. As soon as the buds, are plucked they are allowed to naturally wither and air dry in the sun or in a controlled indoor-outdoor facility. Minimal oxidation naturally occurs during this process, but far less than what is typical for black teas, and it is because of this that white loose leaf teas have a much more delicate and softer flavor profile. This minimal processing is to keep it as “raw” as possible, such that the field translates to the palate. This is why some tea masters believe that to understand the terroir (taste of a place) one need only sample that area’s white tea. White tea’s flavor profile is soft, herbal, and fresh with some dipping into subtly sweet and citrusy tones.
White tea brings with it the promise of relaxation. With its gentle yellow liquor and honeyed notes it is also rich in antioxidants and is an amazing natural source of fluoride, which studies have shown can help make the surface of teeth more resilient and assist in preventing dental cavities. While it is true that Chinese white tea contains the lowest amount of caffeine among its regional kin, studies have shown that some white teas outside of China do have higher caffeine levels.
White teas are the most delicate of all loose leaf teas and require cool temperatures of 160° to 175° Fahrenheit and quick steeping times from 1-3 minutes.