White tea is the most delicate of all the varieties of tea. It uses only the newest tea leaves from each bush with a minimal amount of processing. Considered by connoisseurs to be the ultimate gourmet tea, its popularity is growing because of its health properties.
Most of the white tea in the world comes from China, but there are regions of India ( Darjeeling, Nilgiri, Assam) and Sri Lanka that produce it now.
Types of White Tea
There are two main types of white tea, these can be categorized on the basis of the plucking of the leaf. Bai Hao Yin Zhen, also known as the Silver Needle white tea, is one of the most expensive and a prized variety of white tea. Bai Mudan, also known as White peony, is made from fine plucking of two leaves and a bud. With demand for good quality white tea on the rise, white peony and silver needles is being produced by select estates in Darjeeling and the Nilgiris.
How is white tea manufactured ?
White tea production is actually quite simple. The freshly plucked leaves are spread out and allowed to wither until they're completely dry. If the weather isn't cooperating on the day of harvest, sometimes a dryer set at a very, very low temperature is used to help the leaves wither faster. That's pretty much it; there's no twisting, rolling, steaming, etc. Most green teas have a distinctive 'grassy' or 'vegetal' taste to them. The flavor is described as light, sweet, and delicately floral.
How to brew white tea ?
A good starting point is 175 or 180 degrees for 3-7 minutes (all about personal preference). You could also use hotter water - 190 or so - and steep it for much less time. Cooler water for a longer time will yield sweetness and a soft, delicate quality. Hotter water for a shorter time will make a brighter cup with more body. Also, as most white teas can be very large and fluffy, you should use more leaf - 2+ heaping teaspoons per 8 ounces of water.
One serving of white tea can be brewed several times, with each steeping revealing another element of flavor. Experiment with these methods to find the perfect cup of white tea to fit your tastes.
Health Benefits of White Tea
White tea offers various health benefits, ranging from a feeling of well-being to some exceptional medicinal cures. Some of the common health benefits include:
Weight Loss – Due to the presence of antioxidants in white tea, it helps in burning fat and promotes weight loss.
Better Skin – White tea has antiseptic and antioxidant properties that help control acne and protects the skin from cellular damage. Drinking one cup of white tea twice a day can help flush out the toxins from your body that may be causing a negative effect on your skin.
Anti-cancer benefits – According to studies, white tea is more effective than green tea to destroy cancer cells in the body. This tea also protects healthy cells against damage during cancer.Assists in the Treatment of Diabetes – White tea can control insulin secretion. The catechins in tea can offer anti-diabetic properties as they help in the prevention of type 2 diabetes.