White tea is from the same plant as black tea, oolong tea, or green tea – Camellia sinensi. Tea bushes for white tea, though, are shaded so the chlorophyll production is inhibited. This gives the leaves a pale green color.
White tea is made from the buds and young leaves of the tea plant. The leaves are steamed or fried immediately after picking them to stop oxidation.
Because of these special growing and harvesting procedures, white tea has higher concentrations of catechins than other types of tea. Catechins are the anti-oxidants that provide so many of health benefits of tea.
Scientific studies have shown that white tea is more effective than green tea in retarding the growth of bacteria. Other studies have shown that white tea removes tumors from the stomachs of mice. This effect has been found with all types of tea, but is most pronounced in white tea.
How does White Tea Taste?
White tea has a very delicate taste – very different from other teas. Unlike the grassy flavor of green tea, white tea has a unique sweetness. There is a great range in taste, though, depending on the variety of white tea you are drinking.
Although white tea has traditionally been produced only in China, other countries such as Sri Lanka have started producing white tea. It is a premium tea that carries a premium price tag, so many tea producing countries are looking into white tea production.
There are several varieties of white tea, with the greatest selection being from China. Chinese white teas include:
- Bai Hao Yinzhen (Silver needle)
- Bai Mu Dan (White Peony)
- Gong Mei (Tribute Eyebrow)
- Shou Mei (Noble, Long Life Eyebrow)
All four types of white tea come from Fujian Province in China. The best white tea is Bai Hao Yinzhen, with the highest grades fetching amazingly high prices. Bai Mu Dan is ranked second in quality, and Gong Mei is the third rank. Shou Mei has a stronger flavor than other white tea due to its later harvest time.
Other White Tea
Sri Lanka produces a very good quality white tea called Ceylon white tea. The tea is much more expensive than other Ceylon teas which is encouraging more tea plantations to develop white tea production.
White tea is also produced in Darjeeling, India. Darjeeling white has a sweet flavor and brews to a pleasing pale gold color.