White Tea Explained
Many people want to know exactly what is white tea?
When green tea first arrived on the Western scene it faced many of the same obstacles. Eventually, Americans welcomed its different, astringent taste, particularly when it was infused and flavored with other elements like ginger or mint. And green tea’s publicity as a healthy beverage greatly added to its popularity. Today, there are very few Western households that do not have at least one type of green tea in their kitchen cupboard. Even Lipton makes several flavored varieties.
White tea, which followed in the wake of green tea’s long stretch of success, has for the most part been lost on many of today’s consumers. Unlike most varieties of green tea, the best white tea is not found on the supermarket shelf. Much more costly and harder to distribute, true white tea simply lacks economic value for most sellers. In general, the white tea that one comes across in the grocery is in actuality a white tea blend and not real white tea at all. And, because of its subtleness, it is often heavily flavored with fruit – usually peach or pear – to provide it with some sort of aroma and taste. Anything heavier on the palate like ginger or even lemon would completely mask white tea’s essence, if it was there to begin with. As a result, white tea has yet to enjoy the commercial success of its green cousin. But thankfully this is beginning to change as people discover what white tea really is and how, on so many levels, it can enhance your tea drinking experience.
Specialty tea companies and grocers, whose clientele seek out the more unusual and exotic, will carry white teas. For the seasoned tea drinker who is willing to do the legwork, the beverage of emperors can usually be had for a price. Even in these locales, white tea blends are common as they help to reduce the perceived exorbitant cost, but the blending is far superior to that found elsewhere. Through these channels, many have been able to experience the true pleasure that white tea can imbue.
What sets white tea apart from the rest of the teas, is that white tea is the least treated and processed of all available teas. It has been subject to fewer climatic changes, less growth and aging, less drying, less oxidation, and essentially less tampering overall, resulting in something far more pure and natural than its counterparts such as black teas – which go through a good deal of processing – and even green teas – which are generally subjected to firing. It is also, interestingly enough, the tea that receives the most care and attention in its production.