THE ORIGIN OF TEA. White tea was exclusively produced in the Chinese province of Fujian and is said to be the original tea. Interestingly, all four major types of tea (black, oolong, green & white) come from the same tea plant, Camellia sinensis. The distinction between the categories of tea is in the method of processing the tea leaves. White tea is the uncured, unoxidized tea leaf. It consists of the bud and two young leaves and once harvested undergoes only the processes of withering and drying. The result is a pale liquor with a fresh and subtle taste – lightly sweet and delicate. White tea requires longer infusions - up to 15 minutes. This is a treat for connoisseurs.
Highly prized and grown only in small quantities white teas have their own language:
- Yin Zhen (Silver Needles) – the highest grade of white tea. The leaves are fleshy, lightly coloured and covered with tiny white hairs, resembling silver needles. The very best are picked between March 15 and April 10 when there is no rain and only undamaged and unopened buds are used
- Pai Mu Tan (White Peony) – a grade down from Yin Zhen, this tea includes the bud and first two leaves covered with fine, slivery-white down