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What Is White Tea? The Complete Guide To White Tea

Originating in China, white tea is one of the most delicate teas out there. It’s also one of the rarest due to the precise picking and drying process.

White tea leaves are hand-harvested once a year. Every spring, pickers choose the youngest parts of the plant and harvest the leaves and buds before they’ve opened. The name “white tea” comes from the little white hairs found on these young plants.

After they’re picked, the leaves are dried immediately to make sure there’s no oxidisation.

Is white tea different from green and black tea?

While white tea is made from the same leaves as black and green tea, it's quite a different drink. Because of how it’s picked, white tea keeps hold of more healthy antioxidants and has a subtler flavour than other varieties of tea.

Where does white tea come from?

Originally, white tea was grown in the Fujian province of China. Lots of traditional white teas still come from this area but given the global popularity of the drink, it’s also grown in other countries with similar climates like Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Thailand and Taiwan.

Does white tea contain caffeine?

White tea is a great option for anyone trying to cut down on caffeine as it’s naturally lower in the stuff than most other tea varieties. A cup of white tea generally has around 6-55 mg of caffeine, compared to 30–70 mg for green tea and 47–90 mg for black tea. Coffee is upwards of 96 mg of caffeine per cup.

Switching from a higher caffeine drink to white tea will likely make it easier to drop off to sleep and can improve your rest once you’ve dosed off. The small amount of caffeine is still enough to wake you up in the morning and could have a positive effect on brain function and overall energy levels, too.

What does white tea taste like?

The taste of your cup of white tea will depend on the variety you choose. Some of the most popular infusions are Silver Needle and White Peony, which are traditional, Chinese blends. These teas are light yellow and have fresh, fruity, grassy flavours.

In contrast, our rare white tea from Darjeeling combines floral, citrus and mint flavours, tasting almost creamy as you sip.

White tea also goes well with other flavours, just like green tea. Jasmine is often paired with white tea — its essential oils infuse each cup with a delicate, sweet flavour.

Is white tea good for me?

White tea has lots of health benefits associated with it. The leaves go through minimal processing after they’re picked, so they’re packed full of healthy antioxidants. Experts recommend drinking two-four cups of white tea each day to get the full benefits.

Some of the many ways white tea can help keep you healthy include:

Reducing inflammation

White tea is one of the best natural remedies to combat free radicals in the body. Damage from free radicals can cause inflammation and weaken your immune system. The antioxidants in white tea work to protect the body from free radical damage, helping reduce inflammation and potentially lessening the chance of developing certain diseases.

Keeping your teeth healthy

Tannins, catechins and fluoride all naturally occur in white tea and can help keep our teeth healthy and strong. Fluoride is often found in toothpaste as it protects against tooth decay, while tannins and catechins both help prevent plaque build-up.

White tea also has natural antibacterial properties that can help keep your whole mouth clean and healthy.

Boosting heart health

Studies have shown that drinking white tea could lower your risk of developing heart disease by up to 21%. This is down to the polyphenols that occur naturally in each cup.

There’s evidence to suggest that polyphenols can help blood vessels relax and may stop “bad” cholesterol from oxidising, two things which can cause heart disease.

When should I drink white tea?

White tea is the perfect drink for almost any time of day. A brew at breakfast time can help you start the day energised, while an afternoon cuppa will give you a post-lunch boost. A soothing cup of tea can help with digestion too, so white tea is a great after-dinner drink.

Some white teas, like our Glenburn White Moonshine and White Peony infusions, can be enjoyed at bedtime as they contain very little caffeine. If you’re planning to sip a cup at night, check how caffeinated it is to avoid keeping yourself up.

How do I make white tea?

It’s best to wait for boiling water to cool before adding to your tea leaves or bag. Aim for about 70°C as water that’s too hot can scorch the delicate leaves (and could drain the health benefits from your brew).

Once you’ve poured, leave your tea to steep for two-four minutes. The longer you steep the stronger the flavour. But if you leave the tea too long, you’ll risk a bitter brew.

As with green and herbal teas, you shouldn’t add milk to white tea. If you want to change up the flavours, try serving with a squeeze of lemon or a spoonful of honey.

How can I get started with white tea?

Whether you want to cut down on caffeine, improve your health or just fancy savouring a soothing cup of tea, we’ve got a white tea blend for you.

Our Jasmine Silver Needle tea is a great place to start as its subtle, floral aroma is both delicate and delicious. Our Rare Ceylon Silver Tips tea is an excellent option for special occasions.

Click here to explore all our white tea varieties and find your favourite.

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