White Tea Wu-Long: Is it a White Tea or a Wu-Long Tea?

by on Thursday, September 13, 2012 9:17:00 PM

Our white tea wu-long is a constant source of confusion to tea drinkers curious to understand how a tea can be both a white tea and a wu-long tea at the same time! In this article I will explain this and more as we explore this delicious tea!

As we have explained in previous articles such as this one, tea classifications are determined by two main components. The first component is the processing method that is used. White tea, for example, is plucked and air dried, whereas red or black tea is plucked, slightly bruised, and heated to oxidize the leaves and make them darker. Wu-Long tea falls between the two since it is partially oxidized.

The second component is the tea cultivar that is used. All tea comes from Camellia sinensis, but like apples there are hundreds of different varietals within this species. For example, traditional white tea only comes from two cultivars, the Da Bai and the Da Hao. Traditional Wu-Long tea comes from a number of cultivars, including Ti Luo Han, Ti Guan Yin, and Feng Huang Shui Xian.

Our White Tea Wu-Long is named then because it is a mixture of Wu-Long processing with tea leaves from the white tea cultivars. The leaves do not grow as big in the white tea cultivars as they do in the wu-long cultivars.

What we do to make a unique white tea based wu-long is to pick and process our leaves in September/October. At this time of the year the leaves are bigger and more aromatic that at any other time. Then we process a simple wu-long that is about 30-40% oxidized. Lastly, one of the key factors for few kinds of wu-long, such as ours, is to let it age properly for at least 1 year if not longer. This will remove the grassier notes and allow the tea to develop and mature into a flavorful and delicious drink.

This month we will start making some more of our White Tea Wu-Long, but you will not see this year’s crop on our shelves for at least another year or two as the leaves fully mature. Be sure to stop in to our store or ask us for a sample with your next online order to try this amazing tea!

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