Organic Silver Needle White Tea, Two Hills Tea, Yunnan, China, via the Rainbow Grocery bulk section.
All tea is made from the young leaf buds and leaves of the Cammelia sinensis plant.
The major differences between the categories of tea, (white, green, yellow, black/red, and dark/Pu-Erh,) are due to the methods in which the leaves are processed after picking.
White Tea is the most simply processed of all teas. Tea buds are picked, allowed to wither in the sun and slightly oxidized, then dried quickly with low heat.
The fact that white tea leaves aren’t rolled or formed, means the dried leaves are fragile and prone to breaking. Avoid broken tea. Broken tea leaves tend to make a harsher steeped beverage.
A good general rule is, the darker the tea, the hotter the water. The water for the very dark Pu-Erh should be just off the boil. For white tea, let your water sit for a good few minutes after boiling to cool before steeping your tea. (If you like to measure, the water for white tea should be around 180F or 80C.)
Like with high quality green tea, you can fudge the brewing process a bit with white tea. You don’t really need a separate brewing vessel. You can either brew it right in your glass or in a share pitcher.
Add a generous pinch of leaves to the pitcher or glass, cover with water, wait a few minutes. When you’ve drunk it down half way, add some more appropriately heated water. Continue until it tastes more like water than tea.
White tea is subtly colored and flavored. It should have a lingering sweet flavor with overtones of fruit, herbs, or grass.
This tea is on the grassy/briny side, with some fruit-ish and perfume-like overtones. Sandalwood, maybe? Pleasant, but I can’t quite decide if it is more compelling or interesting. Nice length of flavor, though.
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