White tea might be one of the most construed and misunderstood tea type in the western world. It describes a type of tea production process: which is as simple as only drying and withering. Originating in the late 18 hundreds from Fujian in China, it takes shape in both loose leaf and pressed tea cake.
Despite other white tea sources, such as our Moonlight White Tea from Yunnan, let us first take a look at Fujian white tea, where it was originated.
There are two major variables: cultivar and picking standards, that determines the type and price of white teas. Given the scarcity of the buds, silver needle is the most thought after, thus its premium pricing. White peony would be a good value/price alternative, where its both leaf and bud contents generate more complexity in taste as well. A good starting point for white tea could be Gong Mei given its price point. Fun fact, Silver needle and Gong Mei are byproducts of each other: Shou Mei are made from the leftover leaf and buds after the 'needles' (buds) are picked out by hand after the tea leaf harvest.
The Cultivar Dabai is the one selected from hundreds years of natural propagation as its bud is very hairy and thick. Fudin, the most authentic source for Fujian White tea, got its name because the Dabai tea there has the thickest and juiciest buds.
Gong Mei is a special case: it is made from Cai Cha, a less selected cultivar. Thus there is more variations in its taste as each year there could be new sub cultivar and taste produced.
What's special about Silver Needle? What makes it so expensive? What does Silver Needle taste like? Find below the in depth info-graph of Silver needle:
Let's look at the Bai Mu Dan (White Peony), another famous name that is misused for many cases. Good ratio of buds and leaves are a key criteria for an authentic Bai Mu Dan.
Last but not least, we include our in depth view on Gong Mei, the special one with Cai Cha Cultivar.
There are a lot more interesting topics around white teas: such as aged white tea, white tea master, investment/medicinal values in storing white teas. Stay tuned with Cha Moods.