Guide to the Best Varieties of White Tea and Tips for Brewing the Perfect Cup

White tea is a tea variety that often goes under the radar, but it’s one of the most delicate and natural teas available in the market. Its subtle and sweet flavor is a true delight for the senses. In this guide, we’ll take you through the world of white tea and give you everything you need to know to brew the perfect cup every time.

What is White Tea?

White tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, which is also the source of green, oolong, pu-erh, and black teas. Among true teas, white tea is the least processed, making it one of the most natural teas you can find. Chinese white tea is the most common type, as most white tea varietals are grown in China. The tea has a nuanced flavor with hints of floral sweetness, thanks to its minimal processing.

Health Benefits

White tea is a healthy drink with several potential benefits. It contains high levels of antioxidants that boost immune health and help fight off free radicals that cause oxidative stress. Additionally, white tea may help accelerate weight loss and improve relaxation. With just two to five milligrams of caffeine per eight-ounce cup, it’s a great alternative to coffee for those looking to reduce their caffeine intake.

Production Process

White tea is made using the newest tea leaves or unopened buds, known as Pekoe. These are harvested by hand before they open and are characterized by fine white hairs present on the leaves’ surface. White tea leaves are only harvested during the first few days of the first tea flush each year. Once harvested, the leaves are withered for up to 72 hours, rolled to release flavor, and then meticulously dried in the sun to prevent oxidation. Some white tea producers use temperature-controlled ovens to dry the leaves and buds. The result is one of the freshest teas in the world.


White tea has a softer and smoother flavor than other true teas, making it ideal for beginners or anyone looking for a more delicate taste. Its subtle sweetness and floral notes make it a nuanced drink that even experienced tea connoisseurs can appreciate.

The Best Varieties

White tea is known for its delicate flavor and unique processing method. Made from the young leaves and buds of the Camellia sinensis plant, white tea is minimally processed and carefully harvested to preserve its subtle flavor. In this guide, we’ll explore the best white tea varieties from around the world.

Silver Needle (Bai Hao Yinzhen)

Considered the gold standard of white tea, Silver Needle is made using only silver-colored buds measuring about 30mm in length. This tea boasts a light, sweet flavor and a woodsy, floral aroma. Most commonly produced in Fujian, China, it is also cultivated in Yunnan Province and other countries around the world.

White Peony (Bai Mu Dan)

Made using a combination of young tea buds and leaves, White Peony is more affordable than Silver Needle but still has a rich, delicate flavor. Only the top two leaves of each tea plant shoot are used for this type of white tea. White Peony has a stronger flavor than Silver Needle and produces a slightly nutty aroma and aftertaste.

Tribute Eyebrow (Gong Mei)

Harvested later than Silver Needle, Tribute Eyebrow is the third highest grade of white tea. It boasts a bolder flavor with strong, fruity notes similar to oolong tea. This white tea is grown in the provinces of Guangxi and Fujian.

Long Life Eyebrow (Shou Mei)

Produced using the lower quality leaves left over after the Silver Needle and White Peony harvests, Long Life Eyebrow is a fourth-grade white tea. It is harvested later than other white teas and has a stronger flavor and darker color.

Other White Teas

Ceylon White, African White, Darjeeling White, and Imperial Himalayan White Tea are all unique white tea varieties that offer their own distinct flavor profiles.

Ceylon White is a rare tea from Sri Lanka made using only the longest, silver tea buds. It offers a light, fruity flavor with hints of honey.

African White, specifically Malawi white tea, is made using only white tea twigs or stems, producing a more potent flavor with slightly grassy and honey notes.

Darjeeling White comes from the Darjeeling region of India and has a mellow flavor with notes of sweetness. It is pale gold in color and grown at high altitudes.

Imperial Himalayan White Tea is named after the Himalayan Mountains where the tea plants are cultivated. These high altitude white teas tend to have a stronger flavor profile that is dominated by fruity notes.

How to Prepare White Tea: Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Brew

When it comes to preparing white tea, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that you get the best flavor and aroma from your tea leaves. In this article, we’ll share some tips and tricks for brewing the perfect cup of white tea.

Choosing Tea Leaves

To get the best flavor, we recommend using loose leaf tea instead of tea bags. White tea bags usually contain broken leaves, dust, and fannings that don’t infuse flavor as well as whole loose leaf teas. Moreover, broken tea bits don’t offer the same health benefits as whole leaves.

Opt for high-quality white tea to enjoy the nuanced flavor of this tea. Loose tea leaves expand better when infused with water, ensuring higher quality flavor and aroma. It’s also a good idea to purchase organic white teas to avoid chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers that may alter the flavor of the tea.

Measuring Tea Leaves

The proper amount of white tea depends on whether you are using buds or leaves. Use two teaspoons of white tea for every eight ounces of water if it is made from only buds of the tea plant. For white tea made using leaves, use two tablespoons instead. If your white tea contains a blend of buds and leaves, use one tablespoon for every eight ounces of water.

Water Temperature

White tea’s soft flavor profile develops best when brewed with hot water. Avoid boiling water as it can negatively alter the flavor of white tea. Use a temperature controlled tea kettle to heat water to 170 F. Higher water temperatures can cause the young tea leaves to lose their nuanced flavor. Always use pure, filtered water to brew better-tasting and more flavorful teas. Avoid using tap water since it is treated with chemicals that can alter the flavor of white tea.

Steeping Time

White tea has a relatively short steeping time compared to other teas. Infuse the loose leaf tea for anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes. Taste the white tea in 30-second intervals to find the flavor that pleases your taste buds. The longer the white tea brews, the stronger the flavor will be. The steeping time also depends on the type of white tea you are brewing. Note that tea buds take longer to steep than leaves. Small leaves steep the fastest and special attention should be paid to avoid developing bitter flavors.

Additional Tips

White tea is a delicious beverage whether it is brewed hot or cold. To cool off with a tall glass of iced tea, brew the white tea leaves or buds as described above. Chill in the refrigerator for up to four hours and serve with ice.

The subtle flavor of white tea can also be enhanced by brewing it as a sweet tea. Simply add a dash of honey, agave syrup, or raw sugar. Make sure to add the raw sugar when the liquid is hot to ensure it dissolves completely. Garnish with a slice of lemon or go traditional by adding an orange blossom.

Sip the Subtlety of White Tea

White tea has been revered by the Chinese for centuries. Originally only cultivated in China, this tea is now available in multiple varieties and cultivated across the globe. A quintessential Chinese tea, white teas are produced with an unparalleled level of artistry and a focus on high quality. Add this tea to your tea drinking repertoire to enjoy delicate floral flavor. The tea blends perfectly with a dash of lemon, jasmine flowers, or a spoonful of honey.

Whether you choose the highest quality pure white teas or opt for an herbal tea, you’re sure to enjoy the subtle flavor profile of this elixir. Try these different types of white tea and discover the joy of loose leaf white tea.

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