What Is White Tea?

2/24/20241 min read

a rock with a plant in the background
a rock with a plant in the background

White tea is tea leaves picked before they open fully when the buds are still covered in fine, white hairs, which is why it's called "white" tea. Health-conscious people are discovering white tea, making it part of their daily routine due to its good taste, lower caffeine content, and high concentration of antioxidants, contributing to its rapidly growing popularity.

However, white tea is emerging as a new trend. Like green tea, white tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, but the key difference lies in the harvest time and processing. White tea leaves are harvested at a younger age and are not fermented, unlike green tea, which is partly fermented. This minimal processing means both teas retain a wealth of antioxidants, but studies have shown white tea leaves have even higher antioxidant concentrations. In fact, white tea contains about three times more antioxidants than green tea, matching the levels found in young, fresh tea leaf buds still on the bush. Remarkably, one cup of white tea contains about twelve times more antioxidants than fresh orange juice.

The flavor of white tea is much gentler and subtler than green tea, which some find to have a "grassy" aftertaste. White tea offers a smooth, silky, almost sweet taste, with a pale gold appearance similar to young white wine.

White tea also contains less caffeine than green tea, making it a better choice for those sensitive to caffeine. Despite its rarity and the delicate process required for its production, making it more expensive, white tea offers a rich infusion of antioxidants with less needed to brew a potent quart of tea.

In summary, white tea and green tea originate from the same plant, but white tea is harvested from very young buds and contains more antioxidants and less caffeine. It offers a milder flavor and a paler appearance, which may be more appealing to many Westerners.