High Quality White Teas

WTC team

3/31/20243 min read

a cup of tea on a bed with a cup of tea
a cup of tea on a bed with a cup of tea

All proper teas share their origin from the Camellia Sinensis plant, and white tea is no exception. Consensus finds common ground in its minimal processing - the young shoots are swiftly picked and dried, capturing the essence of youth from the plant. Traditionally, this process involved the sun’s embrace, where leaves and buds basked openly, acquiring a timeless charm and a whisper of days long past.

However, the relentless march of industrial progress means that nowadays, most drying is done through mechanical means, a nod to efficiency that, while practical, dims the magic just a bit. Diving into the name 'white tea,' it surprises many that its moniker isn't a tribute to the brew's pale hue but rather to the fine, silvery fuzz adorning its youngest buds. This characteristic is most pronounced on the strains typically chosen for white tea production, though variations exist.

The purists’ white tea hails exclusively from China, its birthplace, with the ultimate purists favoring leaves from Fujian’s Da Bai bushes. Interestingly, in a twist of irony, as China often finds itself replicated, now it’s other nations, including several African ones, making commendable strides in white tea production, adding their unique chapters to the story.

Among the elite of white teas, Silver Needle and White Peony reign supreme. Silver Needle, with its elegant, slender buds, offers a delicate dance of flavors - think honey and cucumber. Meanwhile, White Peony, plucked as the youngest duo of leaves plus the bud, carries a bolder melody, with notes that might remind you of melon and peach.

There’s a lingering myth that white tea, being closer to nature's intent, naturally contains less caffeine. While some variations like Shou Mei are milder, others pack a punch, with Silver Needle outcaffeinating many black teas. So, let’s not judge a tea by its color.

Despite its unique charm and rarity, white tea’s allure has seen it subject to mass production, with lesser versions finding their way into supermarkets. But to truly savor its nuanced flavors and appreciate the silver-tipped artistry, opting for loose-leaf served at a lower temperature is the way to go, perhaps with a dash of nostalgic storytelling on the side.

1. Silver Needle Supreme, JING

A quintessential choice that embodies luxury and subtlety.

Essentials: Cultivated in Fuding, Fujian, China, JING's Silver Needle is a marvel in a cup. The noble brew is characterized by its silky texture and a blend of melon, cucumber, and honey notes, testament to its revered status. It’s a splurge worthy of royalty.

Taste Profile: Melon, Cucumber, Honey, Peach

Brewing Guide: Use 2 teaspoons per cup with water at 80 degrees Celsius, steep for 3 minutes. Suitable for multiple infusions.

2. Silver Needles of Feng Qing, Yunnan Sourcing

A pleasantly surprising and wallet-friendly option.

Essentials: This variant introduces a bold twist to the Silver Needle tradition. Yunnan Sourcing’s offer is rich with deep cucumber and a unique herbal sweetness. Less polished yet irresistibly flavorful, it proves that luxury can be affordable and delightful.

Taste Profile: Sweet, Herbal, Cucumber, Cinnamon, Hay

Brewing Guide: Use 2 teaspoons per cup with 80 degrees Celsius water, brewing for just a minute. Good for 8 more infusions.

3. White Peony, Rare Tea Company

A blend that tells a tale as sweet as its taste.

Essentials: Embracing the primitive charm of white tea, this variety is hand-processed using age-old methods on an electricity-free farm. Rare Tea Co. champions sustainable farming, making this tea a testament to ethical luxury.

Taste Profile: Honey, Peach, Muscatel

Brewing Guide: 2 teaspoons per cup at 70 degrees Celsius, steeped for 3 minutes. Good for 2 more infusions.

4. Kenya ‘Rhino Premium’, What-Cha

An African masterpiece with a bold flavor profile.

Essentials: Bearing the motto ‘Never underestimate the rhino,’ this tea from Kenya showcases the potential of African white teas. Its strong apricot and plum flavors break the mold, offering a delightful surprise for enthusiasts.

Taste Profile: Apricot, Plum, Caramel

Brewing Guide: 2 teaspoons per cup, 90 degrees Celsius water, steep for 2.5 minutes.

5. Aged Silver Needle (2009), Chinese Tea Company

A testament to the fine art of aging tea.

Essentials: Echoing the wisdom that white tea matures into a treasure over time, this 8-year-aged Silver Needle unfolds with a subtle start but leaves a lasting impression with its rich, apricot jam aftertaste, a luxurious find for the connoisseur.

Taste Profile: Rich, Sweet, Apricot Jam

Brewing Guide: 2 teaspoons per cup, 90 degrees Celsius water, steep for 3 minutes.