What is White Tea
And How to Brew It
Before we give some tips on how to brew white tea for your tea party, I would like to explain a bit about this delicate tea.
Like all true teas it comes from the Camellia Sinensus plant. It is actually the new growth at the top of the plant, and has a white, fuzzy, silvery look to the leaves. It is picked before the new growth buds fully open, and is the least 'processed' of all the teas.
They are the closest to 'fresh picked' as you can get without growing your own or visiting a tea plantation. They contain more of the healthy antioxidants than any other tea including green tea.
When I say it is the least processed, I mean it doesn't undergo the oxidation/fermenting process. All tea leaves contain enzymes that oxidize/ferment when the enzymes are exposed to the air. This is done by rolling, breaking, crushing or bruising the leaves depending on which type is being processed.
To prevent oxidation, the tea leaves are withered or air dried without rolling, breaking, crushing or bruising them. They are then fired or steamed to prevent any oxidation.
White varieties usually aren't rolled into balls or twists or further treated unless they will be used as a scented or blended tea. At this stage they are ready to be sorted and then packaged.
Tips for Brewing White Tea
Use the basic tea chart on the
'How to Brew Tea'
page. White tea, because it is a light tea and the leaves are so young and curled naturally, and aren't oxidized, may benefit from longer brewing time in your teapot without developing a bitter taste. Taste your tea at different intervals to find your favorite strength.
White tea also takes a lower water temperature so either catch your water before it boils, (when the air bubbles are rising fairly fast) or if it gets to a full rolling boil before you get it off the heat, let it sit for 30 seconds to 1 minute before pouring over your tea leaves.
As with all teas, test with different amounts of tea leaves and different lengths of brewing/steeping times to find your personal preference. Learning how to brew white varieties of tea and perfecting it to your personal preference will have it's rewards in a great cup or pot of tea!
Last but not least, whether you are making a large pot to share with friends at you afternoon tea party or making a cup just for yourself, take the time to savor and enjoy your tea.
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