Everything You Need To Know About White Tea
“White like the clouds, green like a dream, pure like snow, and as aromatic as orchids”- this is how ancient Chinese poets described the revered White Tea, also known as Silver Tips. This rare tea is best known for its pale colour and delicate taste. It was a tea that was exclusively for the Emperors of China, but from the 1800s it was grown more widely in countries like Sri Lanka and Thailand. This guide will take you through everything you need to know about white tea, from its origins, manufacturing, health benefits and where you can try this exclusive tea.
What Is White Tea?
White tea is grown from a special variety of the Camellia Sinensis tea plant, the tea plant used for the manufacturing of black tea and green tea. However, white tea is handled in a much more gentle manner, from the time the leaves are picked till they are brewed.
Real white tea is made from the tender bud of a special cultivar of the Camellia Sinensis. Despite being called white tea is not always white in colour. In Sri Lanka, white is known as Silver Tips, a nod to the fine silver-white hair which covers the unfurled buds.
White Tea Handcrafting Process
Handcrafting tea is quite a long and intricate process, however, white tea is undergoes a rather minimal process, when compared to the manufacturing process of black tea.
The leaves are handpicked before sunrise and then carefully placed in silk pouches to be protected from direct sunlight. They are delicately dried under the supervision of a tea maker and lightly baked which gives white tea its subtle flavour. Teas such as black tea are oxidised, the oxidation process affects the colour of the tea, so the longer the leaves are oxidised the deeper the colour of the tea. Since white tea is not oxidised it has a pale-yellow colour.
Health Benefits Of White Tea
White tea has been enjoyed for nearly 1000 years, and it is believed that drinking white tea has many health benefits. The bud of the Camellia Sinensis from which Dilmah White Tea is produced has the highest concentration of antioxidants called polyphenols. Clinical studies have shown that the healthy antioxidants from tea polyphenols have played a major part in reducing the risk of degenerative diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer.
White tea also benefits the skin, hair and teeth, improving their health and making them stronger. Research also suggests that drinking white tea promotes weight loss. Although white tea is a low-calorie drink, to get the best effect it must be combined with regular exercise and a healthy diet. Also, while white tea does have caffeine, it is at a much smaller level than green tea and black tea.
How To Brew White Tea
Brewing and drinking white tea is a sensory adventure; this delicate tea must be appreciated by three senses, the eyes, the nose and the palate. To brew any kind of tea, you should always follow the instructions at the back of your tea carton. Despite this, there are a few general tips you can follow when brewing any type of tea.
- Since white tea is so delicate, it should be treated extremely gently. Let it steep for 2 - 4 minutes in a water temperature of 70 - 80℃ (160 - 180℉). If you can’t read the temperature on your kettle, just remember to take it off the heat after a simmer.
- For best results start with cool filtered water or spring water.
- Generally, for 100ml of water, or one teacup, you’d want to use 2 grams of white tea. However, again, please follow the given instructions for the tea you’re using.
- Cover your tea while it steeps. This is to ensure that all the heat stays within the teacup. Keep a diligent eye though, you don’t want the white tea to over steep as this releases a bitterness that ruins the natural mellow flavour of the tea.
- Finally, enjoy! Since the tea has such a subtle flavour, it’s best enjoyed plain without any additives. Drink your white tea without milk, sugar or ginger.
Buying and Storing White Tea
One of the best things about white tea is that it can never really go bad, however, it can get stale. Since the tea is not oxidised it has a longer shelf, but proper storage is key.
- Store your tea in a cool dark place.
- Keep the tea away from direct sunlight, moisture, and oxygen. It’s best to keep in an airtight container.
- Do not store tea in the fridge; it can become soggy and moist.
- Do not place tea close to other aromatic items like coffee and spices as their smells can get infused with the tea leaves over a long period of time.
Dilmah offers two forms of silver tips white tea, either the loose leaf tea; t-Series VSRT Ceylon Silver Tips White Tea, or luxury leaf tea bags; Ceylon Silver Tips Real White Tea. While loose tea leaves are more sought after, Dilmah’s luxury leaf tea bags ease the brewing stage.