White tea production
White tea isn't what you get when you add milk to black tea! Fine, white tea was once the reserve of Emperors; for just two days a year tender silver tip tea buds are hand-picked by local artisans just before the leaf opens.
Producing white tea is a four-step process - withering, fixing, rolling and drying. Firstly, leaves are spread out in the sun to soften; this draws the moisture to the surface and begins the natural fermentation. There is much debate about which withering process is key to making excellent white tea, but many connoisseurs use a variety of indoor and outdoor withering. Once the stems are removed the leaves are slowly baked dry.
The process of fixing stops the natural fermentation and growing process without damaging the leaves. Leaves are then passed through rollers to gently break them down, creating their shape and intensifying the flavour. Drying is the final step in the process, which ensures fermentation has ceased, prevents mold and further develops the flavour of the tea.
Origin of white tea
White Tea first appeared during the Northern Song Dynasty (960 - 1127). Much later in 1769, the first Silver Needle Pekoe Tea was developed and in 1857, tea plants were found in Fuding County in Fujian. In 1885 Silver Needle Tea was developed and then White Peony Tea in 1922. But it wasn't until 1968 that the first exports of white tea were made possible due to new growing and processing techniques.
White tea produces a delicate yellow-coloured drink with a complex, naturally sweet and delicate yet subtle flavour and contain very little caffeine.