White tea is the rarest of all teas and is produced in very small quantities in China (originally in Fujian Province). It outrivals all other teas for its delicate, mild and pure taste. It is the healthiest of all teas because of its high anti-oxidant content and it is also very low in caffeine. After harvesting, white tea undergoes the least processing of all tea, thereby retaining the most health giving properties.
White tea is referred to as ‘non-fermented’ and when brewed, makes a pale, straw-coloured infusion that has a velvety, smooth taste with a fine aroma. Once opened, this tea should be used within three months.
Pai Mu Tan Imperial (also called Bai Mu Dan, Balmudan or White Peony) is made from small, unopened leaves of the Camelia Sinensis plant, which are plucked in early spring, just before the leaves open. The buds are carefully picked by hand, with great care taken not to damage them. They are placed immediately on bamboo trays in thin layers and taken to dry in the sun. The warm air circulating around them allows the moisture to evaporate and natural withering to occur. This natural drying is the only process white tea undergoes. The tea is finally sorted and blended and it is at this stage that flowers and fruits can be added for different flavours and aromas.
Yin Zhen (Yinfeng or Silver Needles) is made from tender, new, unopened buds which have a coating of white down. This gives them a silvery appearance and they are also known as ‘Silver Tip Pekoe’ and ‘China White’. This tea is picked on two particular days in the year and processed by hand. Like the Pai Mu Tan, Yin Zhen is left to dry naturally in the sun. The dried tea’s appearance is of tiny, white blossoms amongst small, delicate, silver-green leaves.
“If you are cold, tea will warm you;
If you are heated, it will cool you;
If you are depressed, it will cheer you;
If you are excited, it will calm you.”
William Gladstone – British Prime Minister 1809- 1898