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Tea – What is White Tea?

Tea drinking has gained enormous popularity in recent years. Of course, in many parts of the world, tea has overwhelmingly been the most well loved drink for centuries. But, today we’re finding that tea is still gaining new fans; many of them giving up their coffee and switching to tea for its health benefits and lower caffeine content.

Because there has been a renewed interest in tea in general, we’ve seen a lot of new trends in tea drinking, as well. One of the newest and most well loved right now is white tea. White tea has a light, sweet taste and is one of the most refreshing teas you can drink. It has many health benefits, too, but many people have never even heard of it.

White tea comes from the same plant as other teas, the camellia sinensis. But, it is harvested much earlier than other teas, before the leaves are fully open. At this point in the growing process, the tea buds are still covered by fine white hair, hence the name white tea.

In addition to being harvested at a different time than other teas, white tea is different because, like green tea, it undergoes very small processing, and is not fermented. The leaves are simply steamed and then dried. Sometimes, tea harvesters will even steam the leaves right in the field, and then let them dry in the sun. This helps protect the delicate flavor of white tea.

There is typically less white tea grown and harvested than other forms of tea. Because of this, it tends to be more expensive than black, green and oolong teas. In fact, historically, white tea was reserved only for use at the highest tea ceremonies, such as those for dignitaries or wedding teas. Today, though, white tea has gained such popularity that it’s likely we’ll see tea growers designating more of their harvest to white tea.

Because it undergoes very small processing, white tea retains its anti-oxidants in their most natural state. This makes white tea some of the healthiest you can drink. Studies have shown that white tea contains the same anti-oxidants as green tea, and even may retain more active anti-oxidants than its green cousin. The anti-oxidants found in white and green tea have been shown to fight diseases such as cancer, heart disease and high blood cholesterol.

White tea has also been shown to improve the immune system, too. In particular, white tea seems to have the ability fight off bacteria and viruses. White tea is also high in fluoride, making it fantastic for preventing tooth decay and inhibiting the formation of plaque.

White tea’s flavor attracts tea drinkers who might find black tea too heavy or green tea to have a bit of a grassy flavor. It’s very light and delicate with a smooth end and just a hint of sweetness. In fact, if you’re used to adding sweetener to your tea, try your first cup of white tea without any sweetener. You might find that you don’t want to sweeten white tea at all, or at least you’ll find that it requires less sweetener than your other favorite teas.

Most white tea is grown in China and Japan, though today it is also grown in the Darjeeling region of India and Sri Lanka. As it is gaining popularity, it’s becoming far simpler to find than in past years. In fact, many of the large tea companies are beginning to market white tea varieties. Today, you can even find white tea in ready to drink bottles.

Because white tea is delicate, it should be brewed using water at a temperature just below the point of boiling. It should only be steeped for 3-5 minutes. It will appear pale in color, but will be perfectly ready to drink. You’ll find that it has small aroma, but tastes sweet and delicate. White tea even looks a bit different than black or green tea before brewing. Most white teas will look somewhat silver in loose form.

Every major tea manufacturer today sells at least one variety of white tea. It’s still most available in loose form, though it is becoming more available in bag and ready to drink form.

White tea’s delicate flavor is often loved alone. But, white tea can also be a very excellent accompaniment to food. Serve it with delicately flavored foods, like scones, mild cheeses and mild chicken and fish dishes.

Food and tea connoisseurs are now also finding ways to use tasty white tea in cooking, too. There are many recipes using white tea for sauces, in particular for sauces to go over fish and chicken. Since white tea has no sugar and no stout, it makes a healthy addition to your food. And, its lightly sweet and delicate flavor can complement many foods without overpowering them.

Be certain to try white tea if you haven’t already. I’m certain that you’ll find its delicately sweet and light flavor to be a welcome addition to your usual beverage repertoire. Plus, you can be sure that you’re drinking something healthy as well as tasty.

Jon Stout is Chairman of the Golden Moon Tea Company. For more information about goldenmoontea.com tea, goldenmoontea.com/whitetea white tea and goldenmoontea.com/WholesaleTea wholesale tea go to goldenmoontea.com

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