It is important to store tea leaves away from air, light, moisture and odors from other foods. It is best in a cool dry place in an opaque and airtight tin. Refrigeration is not recommended.
Each type of tea requires its own unique brewing procedure to draw out its characteristic delicate nuances or strong flavors or even medicinal qualities; and so, we’ll now address the best method of preparing your White Tea. You already have your tools at the ready (if not, please click back to our main Tea page).
Like Black, Oolong and Green Teas, White Tea is one of only four true teas (Black, Oolong, Green and White), and all derived from only one tea plant – the Camellia sinensis – with many varieties included in each. It is only the level of oxidation - or lack of oxidation - that determines the type of tea. Unlike Black or Oolong Teas – but like its Green Tea counterpart, White Tea undergoes absolutely no oxidation at all. The leaves are steamed or fired to inactivate polyphenol oxidation and then dried.
Until recently, White Tea was rarely mentioned in most discussions about tea, but this last category from the same Camellia sinensis plant is becoming increasingly popular among tea connoisseurs. White Tea is made from new-growth buds and young leaves of the tea plant. The little buds that form on the tea plant are covered with silver hairs that give the young leaves a white appearance, and the buds are sometimes shielded from sunlight during growth to reduce formation of chlorophyll. White Tea is a specialty of Fujian Province in China and is frequently used in ceremonies. In order to prevent oxidation, the tightly rolled buds of the plant are immediately steamed or fired to inactivate polyphenol oxidation after letting them wither (air dry) for a period of time. There is no rolling, breaking or bruising of any kind. White Tea, like Green Tea, undergoes no oxidation and retains the high concentrations of catechins that are present in fresh tea leaves (but there may be a slightly different catechin profile) than that of Green Tea, but White Tea also contains the low caffeine levels and high antioxidant properties associated with Green Tea.
Read more about the differences in caffeine content among different teas.
The following steps will guide you through the preparation of your White Tea:
Assuming that you have already pre-heated your teapot (or cup), by swirling boiling or nearly boiling water around in the empty pot and then pouring it off, we will now put the proper amount of tea leaves into the pot – using one level teaspoon of tea per eight-ounce cup of water as a guide – although some old-timers like to add an extra spoon or “one for the pot.” It’s all a question of taste. It is also considered important to brew tea in a vessel that matches the quantity one is preparing. Brewing a single cup in a large teapot will never taste quite right because there is too much room for the heat to dissipate if the pot is only partially filled with hot water; this is the time for a smaller teapot or a covered cup.
Now for the water: When steeping White Tea, heat the water to steam - but not to the boil. If your water does come to the boil, remove the kettle from the burner and allow it to cool for one minute. When it comes to White Teas, the key point is not to brew delicate White Tea with boiling water. Lower temperatures help protect against bitter taste; however, longer steeping will extract more antioxidants.
Now it’s time to pour the water over the tea to let it steep. Do not stir. Generally speaking, White Tea is prepared very much like Green Tea, but you can infuse your White Tea at 165-180 degrees Fahrenheit from five to even seven minutes for a stockier infusion (although this will yield a less fragrant infusion), and some enjoy its delicate nature with a shorter steeping time of two to three minutes at between 175 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit. In the case of Silver Needle White Tea, recommended steeping is about three to four minutes, depending on the water temperature. Some drinkers like to steep Silver Needle with cooler water for longer times. Again, it is a question of taste and experimentation to find the perfect essence. Watch the clock, not the color, as many teas brew to a quite light color. Never reheat your brewed tea.
Finally, it’s time for you to sit down, relax and sip your tea. Delicious? Relaxing? Just what you needed: The Perfect Cup of Tea and You!
These are guidelines for reference only. Experimentation will yield the perfect cup of Tea.