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White tea is tea made by steaming and drying new growth buds and young leaves to inactivate polyphenol. Before steaming, the buds are protected from sunlight to prevent chlorophyll formation. Similarly, the leaves are plucked young so as to retain high concentrations of catechins.

The name White tea comes from the silvery white hairs that cover the little buds giving the plant a white appearance. The most popular bushes from where these leaves are plucked are Da Bai (Large White), Xiao Bai (Small White), Narcissus and Chaicha bushes.

For centuries, White tea has been identified with the Chinese province of Fujian. This tea too has medicinal properties like green tea. In fact, some suggest that White tea is more powerful when it comes to preventing stomach tumors or cancer.

White tea is considered to be the first tea consumed in the world. It is made with the least amount of processing, a fact that makes it medically more useful than all other forms of tea. Later, green tea was developed by using a process of steaming and roasting and black tea by semi-fermented or fermented methods.

The way White tea is brewed is also slightly different. It should never be boiled in water. Instead the tealeaves should be added to hot water and left to steep for five to 8 minutes. Unlike other teas, you need to add a large amount of leaves.

There are several varieties of White tea reachable in the market. The most common ones are:

  1. Chinese White Teas: These include:
    • Bai Hao Yinzhen: The Bai Hao Yinzhen is fleshy, bright colored and covered with tiny white hairs. It has a uniform shape with no stems or leaves. It uses only the undamaged and unopened buds.
    • Bai Mu Dan: A grade down from Bai Hao Yinzhen tea, it has the bud and 2 leaves covered with a fine, silvery-white down.
    • Gong Mei: This uses leaves from Small White tea trees, and forms the third grade of White tea.
    • Shou Mei: This is a fruity, furry White tea with tips and an upper leaf. It has a stronger flavor than other White teas. It is the fourth grade of White tea and may be dark in color.
  2. Ceylon White: The Ceylon White tea gives a very light liquor with a touch of pine and honey. It has a golden coppery infusion.
  3. Darjeeling White: This is a pale golden brew with a mellow taste having a hint of sweetness and a delicate aroma. For strong flavor, a little extra tea needs to be added to the infuser.