So far on our journey through the world of tea we have discussed black, oolong, and green teas, all originating from the Camellia Sinensis plant. White tea also originates from this species and is the purest form of the plant. While the other types of tea go through several steps of processing, white tea is simply steamed to prevent oxidation—a chemical reaction that activates enzymes in the leaves and changes the flavor—and then dried. Because white tea is the least processed of all teas, it retains the most nutrients and antioxidants, making it the healthiest cup.
Until recently, white tea was produced only in China and only on a very limited scale. Throughout history it was reserved for Chinese emperors and royalty because of its rarity. Traditional Chinese white tea is plucked during a small window of time very early in the growing season before the brand new buds open, making it very scarce and very expensive. White tea was not even available on the world market until about 15 or 20 years ago. Now, however, as demand has grown and more countries have begun to produce white tea, availability has increased and the price has dropped.
In China, white tea is used mostly for its medicinal qualities rather than for the flavorful and robust characteristics of black tea. The tender new buds, covered in soft white hairs and often referred to as “silver tips,” produce a mild, straw-colored brew. Typically white tea is flavored subtly with delicate additions such as orange blossom, peony, and honeysuckle. It should not be taken with milk and usually just needs a touch of honey for sweetness. It works very well iced and is a healthy and refreshing alternative to sugary juices and sodas.
To learn more about white tea and the world of tea, contact Carroll County Department of Recreation and Parks to enroll in upcoming classes to be held at Gypsy’s Tearoom in April and May.
Additional posts by Lora Andrews
- The Story Behind Chai, 05 Apr 2013 in Wine & Dine
- Drink Tea for a Healthy Heart, 05 Feb 2013 in Feature&Wine & Dine
- Take Time for Tea, 06 Dec 2012 in Wine & Dine
- Herbal Teas as Remedies, 13 Aug 2012 in Wine & Dine
- Green Tea, 02 Feb 2012 in Health & Wellness&Wine & Dine
- Try a Cup of Oolong, 02 Dec 2011 in Wine & Dine
- What’s in Your Cup?, 04 Aug 2011 in Health & Wellness