Updated: Sep 19, 2020
In Chinese scientific treatise written by Tian Yiheng, "Zhuquan Xiaopin", it was mentioned that green tea is only second to white tea since white tea has a natural taste, that is not influenced by smoke, water, or heat.
In the strictest sense, white tea does not only refer to the tea itself only but it also refers to the process of making tea
Remember that on the farm, tea is a plant. But once the leaves are harvested and steeped in water for drinking, it becomes a beverage.
As a beverage, tea experts consider WHITE TEA as the closest to the natural state of the tea plant since the taste, aroma and overall quality of white tea is retained and not influenced by heat and oxidation such as that of green, yellow, black, wulong or fermented tea. In white tea, even the white, hair-y like structures on the leaves are retained. This is where it gets its name WHITE TEA.
Unlike other tea types that need to go through more intricate process, WHITE TEA is created by just carefully withering and drying the buds or leaves. It seems simple and easy but it is the most delicate process in creating teas.
Due to the minimal process involves in creating White tea, studies suggest that it may contain the most amount of polyphenols (the compounds that have the antioxidants) compared to the other tea types.
Ultra high quality White Tea is made up of buds from early spring harvest but full leaf set, older leaves with twigs are also being used for lower quality white teas. White tea that is made up of pure buds is called Silver Needles White Tea.
CREATING HANDCRAFTED WHITE TEA
FROM FARM TO CUP
Altitude, soil fertility, weather, temperature, even angle of the sunlight are some of the important factors affecting the quality of yield. For higher polyphenolic content, preferred will be high altitude, slightly sloped mountains, colder weather, healthy herbivory. Climate changes affect the secondary metabolites in the tea plant.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE TEA PLANT
According to researches, the tea plant has three distinct lineages (China type tea, Chinese Assam type tea and Indian Assam type tea).
Chinese Camellia sinensis var sinensis
Chinese Camellia sinensis var assamica
Indian Camellia sinensis var assamica
Chinese Camellia sinensis var assamica has been found in the wild in Southern and Western Yunnan area. Tests revealed that the tree has been around since 22,000 years ago.
Tea trees are constantly cloned to improve yield and taste. However, there are tea farmers who preferred to harvest only from the original lineage. The White Tea Shop only buys from these ancient tea farms.
Unsurprisingly, the tea farmers who use handed-down information from generations to generations, got it right since modern science suggests that the Chinese Assam has the most amount of polyphenolic content among the different lineages.