Known for its nuanced and subtle taste and high antioxidant content white tea is the least processed type of tea.
It’s made with first buds appearing in the spring and has a high status in the Chinese tea culture. However, if you are used to strong black teas it might take some practice to learn to appreciate the light flavor that white tea has to offer.
It’s time to take a closer look at different varieties of white tea and how to brew them for the best flavor.
White Tea Varieties
Produced mostly in the Fujian province of China, white tea is plucked early in the morning and then spread out in the sun for withering. This takes about 2 days and slight natural oxidation will happen during the process.
After withering, the tea is baked in low heat and then sorted to remove any unwanted elements. Finally, the tea is baked again for a short time.
White tea doesn’t have that many varieties and all of them can be prepared in a similar way. Yet, the different varieties differ in taste and price, so it makes sense to take a minute and get to know some of them.
Here are some of the most popular types of white teas:
Silver Needle Tea – Bai Hao Yin Zhen: Made with young tea buds with no stems or leaves included, the Silver Needle white tea has a relatively high caffeine content. This expensive variety of white tea has a light and fresh taste with notes of citrus.
White Peony Tea – Bai Mu Dan: Among the most popular varieties of white tea, the White Peony Tea has a pleasant floral scent and smooth fruity flavor.
Moonlight White – Yue Guang Bai: Dried slowly in the sun, the Moonlight White has a sweet taste with notes of honey.
Long Life Eyebrow – Shou Mei: Picked later compared to other white teas, the Long Life Eyebrow has a darker color, richer flavor, and contains very little caffeine.
I recommend buying the latest harvest of loose leaf Silver Needle, White Peony, or Moonlight White tea for the best experience.
There are also some high-quality white teas produced in the mountain regions of southern India.
Check out my recommended white tea brands to find the best option for your next cuppa!
White Tea Brewing Temperature
The recommended water temperature for brewing white tea is about 185 degrees Fahrenheit (or 85°C).
Here are a few simple ways to get your water temperature just right:
- Use an electric kettle with temperature control to heat the water.
- Heat water in a stovetop kettle and use a thermometer to get the temperature right.
- Boil water and then wait for about 2 to 3 minutes for it cool down.
How Long to Steep White Tea
The exact brewing time for white is a matter of preference. The longer you steep, the stronger flavor you get. Also, the caffeine content of white tea will increase as it steeps longer.
I recommend starting by steeping your tea for about 2 to 3 minutes for the first infusion.
But don’t discard the leaves yet!
You can brew the same loose leaf white tea at least once or twice more. Increase the steeping time by about 30 seconds for each additional infusion.
Experiment with different brewing times to get a result that best suits your taste.
Here is How to Make a Perfect Cup of White Tea
Follow these step-by-step instructions for brewing a perfect cup of white tea:
Step 1: Put some loose leaf white tea into a teapot with an infuser or a French press. Use one tablespoon for each cup of tea.
Step 2: Add hot water (about 185°F or 85°C). I recommend using spring water but you can also use distilled water. Put a lid on so the water will not cool down.
Step 3: Let the tea steep for about 2 to 3 minutes.
Step 4: Pour into cups and serve!
If you feel like you want a stronger infusion, use more tea per cup of water or increase the steeping time. And remember that you can brew the same leaves 2 to 3 times, so don’t throw them away.
Want to add some vibrant color to your white tea?
Try adding some butterfly pea flowers for a stunning visual effect.
Enjoy your healthy cup of white tea!
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