Organic White tea - We often get asked the question, “What is White tea?” Many people think white tea is simply black tea served with milk, or with cream. When in fact, organic white tea is its own unique and special tea.
Organic White tea - Introduction
Though organic white teas come from the same plant as organic black teas, which is the tea plant Camellia Sinensis, white teas are on the opposite end of the spectrum from black teas. While black tea leaves are dark, and brew into a dark, rich liquor with bright flavors, white tea leaves are almost silvery in color. White teas are characterized by their pale, silvery liquor, and their layered, complex flavors.
White tea gets its name from the beautiful silver fuzz that coats its tea leaves. This fuzz is characteristic of the youngest and most tender tea leaves.
Because the leaves that make up white tea are so young, and because white tea undergoes the least amount of processing, white tea is considered the freshest and most pure form of tea.
History of White Tea:
Just like true champagne comes from the Champagne region in France, it is considered by some tea connoisseurs that true, organic white tea only comes from the Fujian Province in China. However, white teas are cultivated and processed in many tea growing regions of the world.
So why is it believed that only white teas that come from the Fujian Province are true white teas? Well, just as champagne originated in Champagne, France, white tea also has its roots in Fujian, China.
The production of white tea began in China in the late 1700s, after the invention of pan-fired green teas and the highly oxidized, wood-smoked black teas. White teas were gently plucked in the early spring, when the tea leaves were the most tender, and the most silver in the region. These downy leaves were carefully sundried, and then gently roasted to remove excess moisture.
At the time, white tea was so rare, so delicate and so prized that white tea was only gifted to the Chinese Emperor, as a tribute from the Fujian Province. White teas were highly coveted for their beautiful appearance and fine, layered flavors and aromas. They were also plucked only during the spring, and the process of crafting the tea was delicate and labor intensive.
White tea today still continues to be prized for these same reasons. However, since the 19th century, white tea has been easier to come across. Different types of white teas can be found all over the world.
Organic White Tea Flavor Profile:
Usually, organic white teas offer a very refined, delicate and elegant experience of tea. They have a silky mouthfeel, with light flavors, and a lingering fragrance.
With their nuanced flavor notes, which can be fruity or floral, grassy or with hay-like notes, and can also come with layers of light vanilla and cream, white teas are still considered the creme-de-la-creme of the tea world.
Types of White Tea:
What kinds of teas can be described as white tea is still up for discussion. While it is still believed that only the white teas that come from the Fujian Province of China are true white teas, white teas are grown all over China and all over the world.
Organic White Teas are often categorized into five varieties. They are:
Silver Needles are a type of white tea that are most prized. This tea is regarded as one of the finest teas in the world. They are named after their leaves, which consist of long, tapering tea buds that are coated in a fine, silvery down characteristic of tender, high quality buds.
There are no tea leaves and stems present in this tea. As only the tender buds of the tea plant go into the making of Silver Needles, this is a precious, labor intensive tea.
The finest Silver Needles, also called Silver Tips tea, in the world hail from the Fujian province in china. This type of Silver Tips contains plump tea buds, with a silvery fuzz that hugs the bud tightly, giving the buds a fine, almost ethereal silver glow.
Silver Tips is also grown outside of china. Darjeeling’s Makaibari Silver Tips Imperial is also another renowned type of Silver Needles tea. These tea buds tend to be slimmer than smaller than the Silver Buds from Fujian, and their silver down tend to stand away from the buds, rather than hugging the buds, giving them a fuzzy appearance.
Nepali Silver Tips, like Nepal Tea Collective’s Silver Yeti, is plucked in the spring time and one of our most tender and precious teas, is similar in size and appearance to Darjeeling’s Silver Tips.
All Silver Tips teas are characterized by their fine buds, and their sweet, floral and woodsy aroma. The tea always brews into a pale liquor, with a slight golden hue, and a smooth and round mouthfeel.
White Peony white tea consists of two leaves and a silver bud, and is another type of premium white tea from China. It has a richer color, aroma and fragrance than the light and floral Silver Needles, with a nutty and roasted finish. Because White Peony tea is richer in flavor and aroma, this tea is also used in White Tea blends.
Fujian New Craft
Premium white tea is often crafted from the most tender and exquisite tea leaves and buds. In the past, the white tea cultivated in China was reserved for royalty, and presented to them as tribute. Not only was the delicate taste of white tea highly coveted, the limited supply of white tea also made the tea highly exclusive.
This is also why for a long time, tea drinkers who enjoyed black, green, yellow or oolong teas were not familiar with white teas.
As tea lovers began to discover white teas, the demand for these delicate and exclusive teas also grew. To meet this demand, new styles of harvesting and processing white teas also came into play, giving rise to deceptive white teas.
Fujian New Craft is one of these new styles of white teas. Unlike other white teas, this type of white tea is slightly processed, giving it the withered appearance of black teas. However, these teas still have a light body and delicate fragrances associated with white teas.
White Prakash tea
White Prakash is one of the smoothest and finest white teas from Nepal. This white tea also undergoes slight processing, and is sometimes referred to as a ‘Silvery Oolong.’
White Prakash contains the most delicate topmost leaves and buds of the tea plant. This tea has a smooth and round mouthfeel, and a delicate floral aroma layered with fresh buttercream and vanilla.
Health Benefits of White Tea:
Organic teas contain a wide variety of antioxidants and a wealth of healthy compounds that are difficult to find in our modern, processed diets.
Whatsmore, organic teas contain none of the harmful, toxic chemicals that coat non-organically farmed produce and inevitably make their way into our bodies.
While incorporating any kind of organic tea into our daily diet can be deeply beneficial, organic white tea offers a huge amount of antioxidants and natural tea compounds. Besides, tea is quick and easy to brew, and a great and easy source of these healthful natural ingredients.
As white tea is the least processed among the types of teas, it is said to retain the most amount of antioxidants and natural compounds beneficial to health.
Though white tea doesn’t have as much research as green teas regarding their health benefits, we can still offer numerous health benefits backed by research:
The Benefits of Organic White Tea Antioxidants:
Compounds known as free radicals are produced in the body through the body’s natural metabolic processes, as well as through external exposure to sunlight, cigarette smoke, alcohol, medications and pollution.
Free radicals are known to cause ‘oxidative stress’ in the body. Generally, a buildup of free radicals in your body, and their interaction with your cells, can cause a lot of cellular wear and tear. This action of the free radicals causes inflammation, aging, and can contribute to chronic or degenerative diseases.
Usually bodies can clean up free radicals within the body by producing our own antioxidants. However, with a high buildup of free radicals, especially with our modern diets, environments and lifestyles, our bodies can’t often clean up free radicals on their own.
This is where antioxidant rich foods come to the rescue. And tea, particularly white tea, is especially rich in antioxidants.
Why are teas, especially white teas, rich in antioxidants? First, we have to have a clear picture of what we’re talking about when we say antioxidants.
Antioxidants are bioactive compounds, which means that they are compounds that have an effect on our living cells on interaction with them. As we’ve established, antioxidant compounds have the specific action of binding with free radicals and cleaning them up from our system, reducing ‘oxidative stress’ on our bodies. Similarly, teas, white teas in particular, have a high concentration of these bioactive compounds, which interact with our systems to have an antioxidant effect.
So what are these bioactive compounds present in organic white teas that have an antioxidant effect? And how do they arise?
Well, the bioactive compounds present in organic white teas are called ‘polyphenols’. Polyphenols are a set of ‘phytochemical’ compounds present in tea leaves, which means that they are the kind of compounds that are created by the plant for their protection.
In the case of tea, polyphenols protect tea leaves from harm caused by UV rays, insects, diseases, and other harsh conditions. Common polyphenol compounds found in tea are flavanols, flava diols, flavonoids and phenolic acids.
Organic white tea is known to have the highest concentration of polyphenol compounds. This is because, as tea leaves undergo the fermentation process, the chemical composition of the tea leaves change, therefore bringing changes in the color, fragrance and flavor of the tea. Because white teas don’t go through the fermentation process like black teas or oolongs, white teas contain high levels of the original polyphenol compounds that have antioxidant effects on our bodies.
Organic white tea can promote relaxation:
Though there hasn’t been as much research on white tea as compared to the more popular green tea, regular drinkers of organic white tea attest to the relaxing effects of their favorite white tea. This relaxation effect arises due to the action of the type of Polyphenol compounds we talked about earlier – the Phenolic compounds present in high amounts in white tea.
The most common Phenolic compounds found in tea are known as catechins. Catechins found in tea are the compounds EGCG, EGC, EC, etc. The amount of catechins present in your tea leaves depends on the fermentation process your tea has undergone. For example, during the fermentation process of black tea, the catechins present in the leaves are converted to compounds called theaflavins and thearubigins, which give black tea its distinct colors and bold flavors.
While these compounds have their own beneficial effects on our bodies, they don’t have the same relaxing effects that catechins do. The main catechin compound associated with relaxation in our bodies is said to be EGCG, which is present in high concentrations in green tea and white tea.
Organic White Tea May Support Bone Health:
We’ve understood so far that the compounds present in high concentrations in organic white tea have antioxidant effects on our bodies, reducing cellular wear and tear, reducing inflammation, and reducing stress.
The beneficial effects of these compounds that are richly concentrated in organic white teas also have effects that support our bone health.
Studies have suggested that the action of free radicals on the body, causing chronic stress to our systems, can accelerate osteoporosis, which is the weakening of bones prevalent especially in the elderly. Daily intake of teas high in polyphenols and catechins, such as organic white teas, can reduce this stress on our bodies.
Organic White Tea and Dental Health:
Another compound that organic white tea is rich in is fluoride. In combination with the catechins and tannins present in this tea, fluoride can protect your teeth from bacteria.
While studies have long shown that fluoride can help protect your teeth against the buildup of plaque and bacteria, recent studies suggest that because the fluoride in tea acts along with catechins, white tea have a stronger action against the buildup of plaque in your teeth, protecting your dental health with every cup of white tea.
Skin Health and Organic White Tea:
Aging is a natural and normal part of human life, and there is no way to reverse aging and staying young forever! However, healthy habits that take care of your body, along with skin care habits, like using sunscreens everyday, can slow down the aging process of your skin.
Age shows up on your skin from natural, internal aging along with external damage from UV rays and pollution. One study has shown that applying white tea extract topically can protect your skin from harmful UV rays. This is also why choosing a sunscreen best suited to your skin that contains green tea or white tea extracts can better protect your skin from the harmful effects of sunlight.
Internal aging of your skin happens through a breakdown of the skin’s fiber network, which consists of collagen. While this breakdown of collagen in your skin is a natural part of life, during which the body experiences this breakdown at a higher rate and also slows down its mechanism of collagen production, this breakdown can be accelerated by the chronic stress, cell damage and inflammation caused by excessive free radicals.
With the antioxidant action of the polyphenols and catechins present in white tea that reduces cell damage and inflammation caused by free radicals, drinking white tea everyday can also help you maintain the youthful radiance and firmness of your skin, without spending hundreds of dollars on topical skin care products and procedures.
How to Prepare A Great Cup of Your Favorite Organic White Tea:
The leaves of white tea are extremely tender and can be easily damaged. This is why it's important to not only take good care of your white tea leaves by treating them gently, storing them in a cool place and in an airtight container to preserve their exclusive quality. To make a truly delicious pot of white tea, it's also important to brew your tea properly.
Brewing Tips and Tricks
- Boil a kettle of water, preferably filtered water instead of plain tap water. After the water has boiled, leave the lid of your kettle open, allowing the steam to escape. Let your water cool down for up to five minutes.
Water that is too hot can burn your delicate white tea leaves, causing your brew to be bitter and astringent. Allow your water to cool down to 175 to 180 F.
- Use 1 tsp of tea for every 80oz of water for the best aroma and flavor. If you’re brewing a pot of white tea, use two scoops of white tea leaves for a pot of water.
- Don’t let your tea leaves over steep! After steeping for about 3 minutes, remove the strainer containing your tea leaves from your cup or tea pot. But don’t throw out your tea leaves just yet, you can still re-steep them for a second round.
- Pour and enjoy!
Caffeine in White Tea:
White tea is known to have the least amount of caffeine among all other caffeinated beverages. It also has the highest concentration of the compound known as ‘L-Theanine’, which is associated with the relaxing effects of white tea.
The reason you don’t feel as caffeinated even after enjoying an entire pot of white tea as you do after drinking black tea or even certain green teas is because of several factors.
One reason is because of the leaf composition of white teas. White teas are often crafted from the youngest tea leaves of the tea bushes, and are usually harvested during the spring. Because caffeine is a compound that is produced by the tea plant to protect it against harmful UV rays and certain kinds of summer pests, the tea bush produces lower levels of caffeine during the colder months.
Therefore, the delicate leaves that go into white tea just tend to naturally have lower levels of caffeine than tea leaves harvested during the summer time, or more mature tea leaves.
Another reason you feel less caffeinated from drinking white tea is because white tea undergoes minimal processing, or no processing at all.
Caffeine is one of the most stable compounds present in tea leaves. This means that while other compounds present in tea leaves can undergo chemical changes during the production process, caffeine generally remains unchanged.
Therefore, teas that undergo lengthy processing techniques, such as black teas, don’t necessarily always have higher levels of caffeine in comparison to white teas. However, because they have lower levels of bioactive compounds in comparison to caffeine compounds, black teas tend to make you feel more caffeinated.
White teas, on the other hand, have higher compositions of bioactive compounds, one of them being L-Theanine, in comparison to caffeine compounds. This is why drinking large amounts of white tea will still not produce the same effects of caffeine that you can get from a single cup of black tea!