Monday, June 22, 2020

What does white tea mean?

Tea is one of the most popular beverages worldwide. Tea has been used as medicine for centuries. It can be categorized into three major types, depending on the level of fermentation, i.e., green and white (unfermented), oolong (partially fermented) and black (fermented) tea. Each type of tea has a distinct composition, dependent on how the leaves are processed, as well as maturation, geographical location and agricultural practices.

White tea is the least processed tea and has the highest antioxidant levels. Originating from and predominantly produced in southern China, it was virtually unknown to the western world until the late 1800s. White tea is gradually emerging in the global scenario including Indian market. White tea is derived from Camellia sinensis (fam. Theaceae) plant. White tea is not really of white color. In fact, it is a very pale-yellow type of tea and its leaves are long and pointed.

White tea is often described as 'minimally processed' and 'unoxidized' tea among all type of teas. White tea is prepared from very young tea leaves or buds covered with tiny, silvery hairs, which are harvested only once a year in the early spring. The buds may be shielded from sunlight during growth to reduce the formation of chlorophyll, giving the young leaves a white appearance.

The leaves and buds are allowed to wither in natural sunlight before they are lightly processed to prevent oxidation or further tea processing. It is steam dried quickly after the leaves are picked- there is no oxidation at all. Because there is no oxidation, it contains the most anti-oxidants and catechins, the least caffeine, and has a pale colour with a delicate, sweet taste.

The minimal processing of white tea, plus the higher overall proportion of buds to leaf, gives a pale beverage with a slightly sweet, subtle flavor compared with other teas. The basic process for manufacturing white tea is as follows: Fresh tea leaf → Withering → Drying (air drying, solar drying or mechanical drying) → White tea.
What does white tea mean?
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