Remember that when we talk about white, green, or black tea we’re talking about the same plant–Camellia sinensis--and that whether it’s one or the other depends on how long it as allowed to oxidize. White tea is considered the mildest iteration of the tea plant, because it is allowed the least amount of oxidation.
You’ll notice that the color is considerably lighter than the black teas we’ve tried so far, and tomorrow we’ll compare it to green tea. That said, it’s called white tea not because of its color after brewing but because they’re harvested so early that the leaves aren’t completely open so still covered with these fine little white hairs.
It seems a bit more difficult to procure white tea because it requires such careful handling and processing, and the price often reflects that as it tends to be a little more expensive than most green and black teas. So, this is somewhat of a delicacy.
The brand I tried today, Bentley’s, bills its hand-picked white Ceylon tea as “the champagne of teas,” because they pride their quality control and get all of their tea from a single estate in Sri Lanka (well, they still say Ceylon, but that’s the colonial name, so we’re going to go with Sri Lanka). (You may recall that the tea plant is given different regional names depending on where it’s grown, like Assam, Ceylon, Nepali, or Darjeeling.)
You cannot abandon this tea, first of all. It steeps for only 1 to 1.5 minutes. I took too long to take a picture and regretted it and had to make another cup. The other cup I poured in with the compost, because it was gross. Obey the steeping times prescribed by your brand.
I don’t know about you, but when I think champagne, I think bold and bubbly, and this is really delicate and really mild. Maybe my palate isn’t refined enough to appreciate it as something really special. It kind of tastes like just a milder cup of green tea (because that’s basically what it is). One nice thing about it, though, is that it’s really nice to drink it plain because it doesn’t really have any bite to it. Still, I won’t be reaching for it as my go-to cuppa any time soon, no matter how antioxidant-heavy it is.
Is there a white tea you really enjoy that I should give a chance? Let me know in the comments.
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