on Saturday, September 17, 2011 11:00:00 AM
Due to increased awareness in many of the healthy properties of white
tea, demand has surged for this minimally processed tea. However, most
white tea that you can find on the market today would not be classified
as white tea in the traditional sense. In this quick post then, I'd
like to distinguish between the traditional definition of white tea and
what I'd like to call young leaf white tea (what you would typically
find in your grocery store).
Traditionally, tea must fit two
specific criteria to be classified as white tea. First, it must be
processed according to the white tea standard. White tea is plucked and
then air dried, until it typically has between 5-10% moisture content.
White tea is never roasted or fermented, but it does oxidize slightly
while it is drying. The second condition for traditional white tea is
that it must come from a specific variety of the tea plant, either the
Da Bai or Da Hao. Just like the apple tree has hundreds of different
varieties that all come from the same plant, the same applies to tea.
The Da Bai and Da Hao tea plant varieties grow in the mountainous
regions of the Fujian Province and have lots of little white hairs on
the leaves and buds.
Young leaf white tea is a recent creation in
response to the surging demand for white tea that I mentioned before.
Since traditional white tea can only be grown in the Fujian Province,
supply is very limited and not easy to produce on a mass scale, so large
scale producers have started to pick green tea plant varieties very
early and process them in a very similar way as the traditional white
tea, thus the term young leaf white tea. This tea has a very subtle
flavor that is similar to, but not as nuanced or flavorful as
traditional loose leaf white tea.
So if you are looking for
traditional, organic loose leaf white tea, please make sure that you
find a reputable dealer and that your tea comes from the Fujian