Outstanding Nuance in the Cup, as well as a Long List of Healthy Reasons to Enjoy White Teas Regularly...
Looking for tea consumption pleasure? Maybe to add some high quality variety to your tea drinking pleasure? How about another tea option that will deliver abundant bioactive compounds that will complement your quest for wellbeing through tea?
If any of that sounds like you, and you have not been enjoying enough White Tea, definitely start and you will be rewarded in multiple ways
So Why White Tea?
At some point, quite long ago tea plants made their way to eastern Fujian province located on the coast of south east China.
Sometime during the early Qing Dynasty probably around 1796 tea farmers local to Fuding in Fujian observed the emergence of large down-covered buds on the tea plants each year in the spring.
With the onset of colder months and shorter days the energy of the tea plants in this region would retreat from what was becoming a dormant plant to the safety of the root ball.
While the tealeaves would remain on the plant, growth halted and a mode of plant maintenance and sustenance occurs through the winter months.
Mother Nature's Spring Tea Miracle...
As days got longer in the spring, and the sun climbed higher with the passing of each day, energy from the tea plants root ball would emerge pushing out large plump buds.
The local tea people came to realize that there had to be something quite special about the emerging buds filled with Mother Nature's spring energy. They began to harvest these buds before they began to open into leaves and before the development of chlorophyll in the buds
Sun drying the buds thinly-layered in baskets before the opening of the buds and greening of the leaves captured the spring's abundance of high-value content in the buds combining rich flavor ingredient with high levels of health supporting compounds.
In the early days this type of tea was known as Luxueya, and was famous from Taimu Mountain.
The Tai Mu Mother Watches Over Our White Tea
So What IS White Tea?
The combination of enjoyment and health make white tea desirable to both tea consumers and tea companies wishing to cash-in on the virtues of white tea.
This has actually led to controversy in the industry as larger tea companies prefer an expanded definition of white tea making more available to the market.
They would like the definition to be less about the cultivar or terroir and more about the processing of the harvested leaves, where those more passionate about the mystique of true white teas have a more specific view of white tea requirements.
White Tea is MORE Than Just Sun-Dried Tea
The big companies want the definition to be all tealeaves that have been harvested and sun-dried only, regardless of cultivar or terroir.
Tea aficionados see the value in uniqueness of specific cultivars, growing regions and processing techniques particularly associated with hand-crafted teas.
What is White Tea to Me?
To me, what defines white tea is the techniques of propagating, harvesting and processing of the leaves.
I see the classic original white teas being from Fuding and near-by Zhenghe Fujain and being produced from the Da Bai Hao cultivar. (Both Fuding and Zhenghe have their own adapted cultivar and processing style for the classic Silver Needles)
Bai Mu Dan (White Peony) Harvested After Silver Needles
Timing matters to me too. While buds can be harvested from the plants during the entire growing season, it is the early Spring Harvest, the pre-Qing Ming that have the highest value adding content.
White Teas Beyond Fujian Province...
Other regions that also have large-spring-bud producing cultivars, and that process with hand-crafted techniques are legit white tea producers to me.
Yunnan Province in south China produces delightful white bud teas as do countries like Nepal and India.
For me, the gating factors are the leaf material that you begin with, and the processing technique that is used.
The Original...Bai Hao Yin Zhen...White Hair Silver Needle...The Quality...
The famous Fuding bud tea we know as Bai Hao Yin Zhen...Silver Needles.
Teas are graded and judged primarily on appearance. Normally taste is not considered. Surprising as it seems, teas are graded visually, and when it comes to Silver Needles, it particular is bud uniformity that determines the quality.
Uniformity in size, shape, and color are correlated to the level of consistency that can be achieved when steeping the leaves.
It is highly important when harvesting Silver Needle buds, that skill is used when selecting and plucking the buds...only the perfect buds are selected.
What happens to the imperfect buds?
Imperfect silver needle buds are passed-over during the Silver Needle plucking...but not wasted.
Pre-Qing Ming Bai Hao Yin Zhen buds that have been passed over during the primary Silver Needle harvest are later taken along with the next two leaves down the stem.
The leaves, since the bud has just emerged are from the previous season and are completely mature tealeaves.
When selected along with the next two leaves down the stem, this selection is now called Bai Mu Dan, or White Peony.
Bai Mu Dan...The perfect first white tea to enjoy.
Imperfect Silver Needle Buds plus the next two leaves
Imperfect Silver Needle buds may not be perfectly uniform in appearance, but they are loaded with high value ingredient.
The next two leaves down the stem, being mature tea leaves contribute to cup character beyond that of the silver needle buds, complementing the delicate white tea character with a slightly deeper and more apparent cup experience.
Because of the delicate nature of Silver Needles White Peony is the perfect bridge to one becoming accustom to the superb but delicate palate of Silver Needles.
White Tea Cup Character...What to Expect...
Before harvesting the buds that make up our white teas are plump, fleshy, and loaded with potent high value ingredient.
Although a bit resistant to water absorption initially, once you soften the surface the buds will yield cup after cup of tea nectar certain to bring a smile to any tea lover.
Descriptive characteristics are clean, viscus, sweet and salt with more herbatious rather than vegetal, with aroma notes of fresh hay and wicker. Expect a pale yellow, crystalline cup that produces a light pleasant astringency and a lasting sweet aftertaste.
Beyond the Joy of Drinking White Teas Are the Health Benefits...
White teas share the plethora of the health benefits of Camellia sinensis the tea plant, but amongst the array of benefits of particular strengths are its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic and anti cancer benefits.
White teas contribute to wellbeing and longevity as a full-body tonic supporting skin, brain, artery, and heart health, as well as improved body composition, sleep and blood pressure/stress levels.
Enjoying white tea on a regular basis not only provides an immediate satisfaction, clarity and sensation, but initiates residual benefits we will experience in the hours and days to come.
Shou Mei, Longevity Eyebrow...Another White Tea Experience...