The flavor of the best white teas is subtle and sophisticated. This variety of teas is made solely and exclusively from the tender shoots of specific varieties of the tea plant. This unique raw material is one of the reasons why white tea is among the most expensive types of tea, but it puts its character in every cup.
White tea has become a victim of its own success. Whether out of ignorance or to increase their margins, many brands market blends of various teas, often with a tiny proportion of the former, as white tea. The taste of authentic white tea is delicate, combining it with other types of tea destroys its personality.
Join us to discover the best varieties of white tea and not be fooled by dubious mixtures.
Da Bai, the Great White
To properly speak of white tea, it is necessary to go back to its origin. The tea plant, our beloved Camellia sinensis, has been cultivated for centuries. During this time, through selection, varieties with specific traits desired by farmers have been developed.
Da Bai descends from ancient varieties of tea plants grown in Fujian province, where the first known white teas began to be produced.
Following the orthodox point of view, the true and best white tea is made from the buds of this plant, known for its large buds profusely covered with small white hairs.
To make white tea, it is necessary to process the noblest and most fragile parts of the tea plant with exquisite delicacy. The process is simple, there are few steps and little mechanics involved.
The beginning is the harvesting of the tea. The selection of the raw material is tremendously demanding. Only the young leaf buds of the tea plant produce true white tea. In the tea world, these plant fiber-coated buds that look like little white hairs are known as Pekoe and are considered to be of the highest quality. The harvest takes place at night, at specific times of each season and always under the supervision and care of expert tea makers.
After harvesting, the leaves are allowed to wither for a short period of time. Next, their oxidation is stopped by drying them in the sun.
This minimalist production process ensures that the best white tea retains its original tastes and properties unchanged, achieving one of the freshest and most natural teas in the world.
The tender shoots of Camellia sinensis, the only ingredient in white tea, are rich in polyphenols, substances with powerful antioxidant activity.
Numerous clinical trials have been conducted looking at white tea and its antioxidant properties to reduce the risk of heart-related degenerative diseases, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, or oxidative stress.
The ranking of the best white teas
#1 Silver Needle
(Bai Hao Yin Zhen)
Bai Hao Yin Zhen is, without a doubt, the best white tea you can find. It appears in the famous list of the Ten Great Chinese Teas, which distinguishes it as one of the most appreciated and exalted teas in China.
Silver Needle tea is made solely and exclusively from the top center buds of the tea plant. These are distinguished by their large size and a whitish tone because they are covered by small plant hairs.
Its flavor is soft and delicate and its aroma fresh and sweet like freshly cut hay. Small vegetable hairs from the buds usually float in its infusion, which makes it shine in a particular way.
#2 White Peony
With a floral aroma vaguely reminiscent of peony, Bai Mu Dan is an excellent white tea with a more powerful and rounded flavor than other varieties of this class.
This intensity is due to the composition of the tea, which does not exclusively use buds, but rather the first two adjacent young leaves.
The Bai Mu Dan is preferred by those tea drinkers given to the most intense flavors (without forgetting that we are talking about teas with very mild flavor ranges) or less given to scratching their pockets. The quality/price ratio of this tea is usually excellent, being a much cheaper version of Silver Needle but providing great quality.
#3 White Tea Tribute Brow
In Chinese teas, a gradation between 1 and 5 is often used to categorize them. Number 1 represents the highest quality and 5 the lowest. Quality is fundamentally associated with the uniformity of the leaves that make up the tea.
Gong Mei is usually considered a category 3 tea, but it makes a very interesting white tea.
Its harvest, later than that of other white teas, makes its flavor more intense than that of Bai Mu Dan and its infusion is darker. This white tea has a strong, fruity flavor, similar to that of oolong tea.
#4 Long Life Brow White Tea
Shou Mei is a tea very close to Gong Mei. In this case, it is a category 4 tea. This white tea is made from the lower quality leaves that remain after the harvests that make up the base for Silver Needle and White Peony.
Its flavor is more intense than that of Bai Mu Dan and will remind some of the flavors of lighter oolong. Its infusion is golden and darker than other white teas.
The other white teas
Not all white teas out there are made from the Da Bai variety of the tea plant, are they? The truth is that there is some debate in the expert community about what exactly is a white tea.
From an orthodox point of view, white tea can only be obtained from Da Bai . However, there are other teas that are called white but are made from other varieties. In these cases, the concept of white tea is used as a reference to the large proportion of buds (tender and covered with hairs) in the tea.
We believe that it is always good to break barriers. Who knows? Perhaps among these varieties you will find the best white tea for you.
Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, is one of the world’s great tea producers.
Ceylon white tea is obtained from a variety of Camellia sinensis called Silver Points. She produces impressively long buds and dark green leaves.
This variety is not known for its yield and producers often prefer to make other types of tea. White tea production accounts for 0.1% of Sri Lanka’s national tea production.
Ceylan white tea is a rare, select and expensive tea. It can cost up to 500 times more per kilogram than other types of high-quality tea.
Ceylon white tea has a subtle, fruity flavor and a creamy liquor. It lacks astringency and the herbaceous touches of other teas such as green or black.
Darjeeling white tea has a mild flavor with a hint of sweetness. The special climatic conditions of its cultivation area give the teas their well-known nuances of muscatel and dried fruit.
Darjeeling White Tea is an interesting twist but not a radical departure from the flavors usually associated with a classic white tea.
This is, of course, a peculiar white tea. The first factor is its origin, tea began to be cultivated in Africa during the 20th century. On the other hand, today there are not many places where white tea varieties are made in the world; Malawi is one of them.
There are bold white tea varieties produced in Malawi, such as the one made by the Satemwa factory. In their case, instead of using the buds of the most tender leaves of the plant, they use the stem of the new branches that grow during the spring to make the tea.
This makes it totally unique; stems are normally considered lower quality parts of the plant.
This tea has an intense floral aroma and a delicate sweetness. Its infusion is bright and clear. The truth is that it is amazing that a tea without leaves can present these nuances.
Enjoy the delicacy of an authentic white tea
We hope we have given you enough information to choose your next tea with confidence. As always, the best white tea is the one that suits your tastes, but don’t be fooled by blends from unscrupulous producers eager to exploit the popularity of a concept.
Discover the natural and delicate flavors of this category of authentic white teas in your next cup.