Silky and Soft
If you've been reading up on tea lately then you might know that there are four distinct varieties of tea available which all come from the same plant: the Camellia Sinensis plant. And these are Black tea, Green tea, White tea, and Oolong tea.
Although tea in all its forms has been popular in China for thousands of years, (hence the saying "not for all the tea in China!"), the world at large was only introduced to Black tea very recently. And with a surprising resurgence in popularity of tea due to "new" health benefits found in it, Green and Oolong teas have also made the rounds recently. And now it appears to be the turn of White tea to make a bow.
However, if you are interested in rushing out and buying a packet of White tea you should be warned that White tea is not cheap. In fact it would not be wrong to state that White can be downright expensive depending on the grade of the tea.
This is due to a couple of factors, one of which is the fact that White tea is a scarce commodity. The harvesting and preparation method of the tea leaves means that it is not as abundant as the other tea varieties. (It should also be noted here that the brewing of White tea is also different in method than that of the other teas, beginning with the fact that you need to use water that is just below boiling point instead of boiling.)
White tea is a very light tea and has a silky texture and soft flavor. It lacks the green grassy taste that is so familiar in a good Green tea, and it has none of the bitter taste or flowery properties of the Black and Oolong teas.
White tea is not processed as much as Black tea is, and is in fact an "unprocessed" tea just like Green tea, (this means that very little actual preparation is done to the harvested leaf). The difference between the two tea varieties (Green and White tea) comes then at the harvesting point.
Unlike the other varieties of tea, White tea is made from tea buds that are barely unfurled. It is also the appearance of these buds which has given White tea its name, as the buds are covered in a silver fuzz at the time of harvesting.
When the harvested buds are steamed, the fuzz remains on the leaf turning to a white color, hence the name "White tea".
White tea is cultivated and made in a few different countries around the world, with China, Japan, India, and Sri Lanka (Ceylon) being among the top runners for producing high grade White tea. And just like the many different varieties of Black tea available, there are also different grades of White tea available, with the Silver Needle variety being one of the most sought after White tea varieties.
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