Many people believe that different tea comes from different plants. But like all wine comes from grapes, all tea comes from the same tea plant – Camellia Sinensis. What gives us the many different types we enjoy is not only down to differing varietals but two key factors: when the leaves are picked and how they are crafted.
The best white tea is sweet, delicious and very delicate. It should be extremely elegant and subtle. In order to supply large volumes, some brands use leaves harvested throughout the year but the finest white tea comes from leaves that are picked for just a few short weeks in the early spring. The most celebrated come from Fuding in the Fujian province of China, which is known as the Champagne region for white tea.
White tea undergoes the least amount of processing; it is simply plucked and dried which allows it to retain the most delicate flavours and the highest amount of health-promoting antioxidants.
It is important when making white tea to use water heated to 70°C to bring out the sweet, grassy notes. This can be achieved by adding 50ml of cold water (around two dessert spoons) per 150ml (a tea cup) into the teapot before adding boiled water. The sweetness is due to amino acids dissolving at lower temperatures whilst higher temperatures bring out the tannins and astringency.