White tea usually contains buds and young tea leaves, which have been found to contain lower levels of caffeine than older leaves, suggesting that the caffeine content of some white teas may be slightly lower than that of green teas.
White tea is a specialty of the province Fujian.
The leaves come from a number of varieties of tea cultivars. The most popular are ''Da Bai'' , ''Xiao Bai'' , ''Narcissus'' and ''Chaicha'' bushes. According to the different standards of picking and selection, white teas can be classified into a number of grades, further described in the .
In hard times, very poor Chinese people would serve guests boiled water if they could not afford tea. Host and guest would refer to the water as "white tea" and act as if the tradition of serving guests tea had been carried out as usual. This usage is related to plain boiled water being called "white boiled water" in Chinese.
Varieties of white tea
Chinese white teas
* : The highest grade of the Bai Hao Yinzhen should be fleshy, bright colored and covered with tiny white hairs. The shape should be very uniform, with no stems or leaves. The very best Yinzhen are picked between March 15 and April 10 when it is not raining and only using undamaged and unopened buds. , China.
* : A grade down from Bai Hao Yinzhen tea, incorporating the bud and two leaves which should be covered with a fine, silvery-white down. From , China.
* : The third grade of white tea, the production uses leaves from the ''Xiao Bai'' or "small white" tea trees.
* : A fruity, furry white tea that is a chaotic mix of tips and upper leaf, it has a stronger flavor than other white teas, similar to Oolong. It is the fourth grade of white tea and is plucked later than Bai Mu Dan hence the tea may be darker in color. From and in China
Other white teas
*: A highly prized tea grown in Sri Lanka. Ceylon White tea can fetch much higher prices than black tea from the area. The tea has a very light liquoring with notes of pine and honey and a golden coppery infusion.
*: It has a delicate aroma and brews to a pale golden cup with a mellow taste and a hint of sweetness. This tea is particularly fluffy and light. A tea from Darjeeling, India.
*: White tea production in the Assam region is rare. Much lighter in body than the , a white Assam yields a refined infusion that is naturally sweet with a distinct malty character.
*African White: Produced in minuscule amounts in Malawi and Kenya, mostly as silver needles type made of assamensis buds; usually higher in caffeine and richer in flavour than Chinese whites, sometimes approaching yellow teas, and often changing flavours in the cup.
*White Puerh Tea: Harvested in the spring from plantations found high on remote mountain peaks of Yunnan Province, China. Incredibly labor intensive with each step processed by hand, these luxury whites are wonderfully rich in fragrance, and possess an alluring, sweet nectar-like quality.
Potential health benefits
White tea compared to green tea
A study at Pace University in 2004 showed white tea had more and qualities than green tea.
White tea contains higher catechin levels than green tea due to its lack of processing. Catechin concentration is greatest in fresh, unbroken and unfermented tea leaves. Furthermore, one study examining the composition of brewed green and white teas found that white tea contained more gallic acid and theobromine.
Caffeine content of green and white teas are similar, though both depend on factors such as the variety of tea, the cut and of the leaf, and the length and method of steeping.
White tea contains less fluoride than green tea, since it is made from young leaves only.
Generally, around 2 to 2.5 grams of tea per 200 ml of water, or about 1.5 teaspoons of white tea per cup, should be used. White teas should be prepared with 80°C water and steeped for 2 to 3 minutes. Many tea graders, however, choose to brew this tea for much longer, as long as 10 minutes on the first infusion, to allow the delicate aromas to develop. Finer teas expose more flavor and complexity with no bitterness. Lower grade teas do not always stand this test well and develop bitter flavors or tannins. On successive brews , extend the time by several minutes per. The third brew may require as long as 15 minutes to develop well. Temperature is crucial: if it is too hot, the brew will be bitter and the finer flavors will be overpowered.