Origin: Southern Yunnan, China
Plucking Season: Spring
Unlike small tea bushes, some areas in Southern Yunnan have tea plants (mostly those growing wild) that have matured into trees of six to ten feet in height. Tea pickers have to climb these trees to harvest the leaves.
The branches of these old tea trees are at least 30 cm or bigger and the newly sprouted leaves almost twice as large than those from other regions. Each tree provides only 40 to 50 pounds of tea per year.
The Dai ethnic people in Jingmai village are rich in their indigenous knowledge of plants and herbs. Many of these wild tea trees have other species of useful plants and flowers growing on their branches.
Known as “Bai Cha,” white teas are made from newly sprouted buds with a silvery white down that provides a honey texture to the brew.
In making white tea, the buds are heat braised in covered pans or dried in direct sun. As a result there is little or no oxidation of the buds.
Water Temp: 170°F (77°C)
Quality of Water: Best with Spring water
Quantity of Leaf: 2 tsp per 8oz water
Steep Time: 3-4minutes
The young tip bud and first leaf sets used to make this tea are very tender. As such, we recommend using mineral or spring water at a lower temperature (160-180 F) to avoid stewing the leaves and to bring out a more balanced flavor.
This tea is much lighter in weight and requires a little more leaf to make a full flavored cup. Around two level teaspoons per 8 oz of water is a good place to start.
Steeping time can range between 2 to 4 minutes. Although the amount of re-infusions possible can vary to taste, the above guidelines usually provide 2 to 3.
As a general rule of thumb, the longer the steeping time and/or the higher the water temperature, the less leaf needed and fewer re-infusions possible.
Although white teas can be brewed in any vessel, teapots and gaiwans made from porcelain, glass, delicate ceramics, and other materials that release heat quickly work best. If you wish to use a yixing, cast iron, or any vessel made from a heavy material, it is a good idea to tilt open or remove the lid so that some heat is released and the leaf is not stewed.
Traditionally, white teas are enjoyed from porcelain gaiwans. Not only does a gaiwan make it easy to stir the leaf and control the temperature, but also to view the leaf as it is steeping, an important aesthetic in drinking these beautiful teas.
Another common method for brewing and drinking white teas is to just place a few of the leaves in a clear glass, add heated water, and wait for the leaf to infuse and submerge. The beverage can then be enjoyed directly with the leaves and more water added as needed.