Exploring the Delicate World of White Tea: Varieties, Caffeine Content, and Aging Wisdom

Blog post description.

3/18/20242 min read

a group of people sitting around a table with food
a group of people sitting around a table with food

White tea, cherished for its minimal processing and delicate flavor, is a unique category among the traditional teas of China. It's distinguished by its gentle fermentation process, which retains a high degree of the tea's natural qualities. Here's a detailed exploration of the types of white tea, its caffeine content, and more, based on your outline:

Part 1: Classification of White Tea

White tea can be classified according to several criteria:

  1. Picking and Selection Standards: This classification includes Bai Hao Yin Zhen (Silver Needle), Bai Mu Dan (White Peony), Gongmei (Tribute Eyebrow), and Shou Mei (Long Noble Life Eyebrow), each defined by the specific parts of the tea plant used and the time of harvest.

  2. Year of Storage: Distinguishes between New White Tea and Old White Tea, reflecting differences in taste and appearance due to aging.

  3. Form: Separates Loose Tea from Cake Tea, indicating the physical form in which the tea is stored and sold.

  4. Tea Tree Species: Includes varieties such as Caicha, Fuding Dahao, Fuding Dabai, Zhenghe Dabai, Shui Xian, Fuyun No. 6, and Jinggu Dabai, each contributing unique flavors and characteristics.

Part 2: Four Basic Types of White Tea

  • Silver Needle (Bai Hao Yin Zhen): Made exclusively from the buds of the Dabai or Shui Xian tea bushes. It's the highest quality white tea, valued for its plump buds.

  • White Peony (Bai Mu Dan): Consists of one bud and one or two leaves, offering a fuller flavor profile than Silver Needle.

  • Gong Mei (Tribute Eyebrow): Produced from a mix of buds and leaves, it has a richer color and flavor, typically harvested later in the season.

  • Shou Mei (Long Noble Life Eyebrow): Utilizes older leaves than those used for Bai Mu Dan and Gong Mei, resulting in a robust flavor.

Part 3: New White Tea vs. Old White Tea

  • New White Tea: Characterized by its fresh and tender appearance, with a green and silvery white color.

  • Old White Tea: Exhibits a darker, tawny, bronze, and silver-gray appearance, with a taste that evolves and deepens over time.

Part 4: Loose White Tea vs. Compressed White Tea Cake

  • Loose Leaves White Tea: Tea in its natural, loose leaf form, allowing for a fluffy appearance and a more natural brewing process.

  • Compressed White Tea Cake: Tea leaves that have been compressed into cakes, making for a different storage and aging process that can influence flavor.

Part 5: Differences in Tree Species

Each species contributes distinct characteristics to the white tea it produces, from the mild and delicate flavors of Fuding Dabai to the rich and full-bodied notes of Jinggu Dabai.

Part 6: Caffeine in White Tea

White tea contains caffeine, though generally 15% less than green tea. A 250 ml cup of white tea can have 6-55 mg of caffeine, depending on various factors such as brewing time and temperature.

Part 7: Why is it Called One-year Tea, Three-year Medicine, and Seven-year Treasure?

This saying reflects the aging potential of white tea:

  • One-year Tea: Fresh, with a taste similar to green tea, offering a refreshing and mild flavor.

  • Three-year Medicine: As it ages, white tea's properties transform, developing a mellow aroma and a softer taste.

  • Seven-year Treasure: With further aging, white tea acquires a sweet, floral aroma and a depth of flavor that makes it a rare and valued commodity among tea enthusiasts.

White tea's simplicity in processing and the breadth of its classification make it a fascinating subject for both connoisseurs and casual tea drinkers alike, offering a variety of experiences depending on the specific type and age of the tea.