White tea is a mild, sweet and fresh tea, that comes from a very healthy and rarer variety of the same plant as green tea (Camellia sinensis). It is produced mainly in the Fujian province of China and only consists of hand picked tips of the most tender leaf buds that are covered in silvery, down-covered hairs. These leaves can only be picked during a short window of opportunity in the spring.
With up to three times the antioxidants of green tea, this least-processed tea is the healthiest tea of all teas. It has a mild and sweet flavor that is velvet-like in smoothness, and has none of the grass-like flavors some green teas can produce. Follow the steps below to make sure your white tea retains all its fine qualities while brewing!
Choose good quality water. If you live in an area with hard water, filter it before you use it to brew. Hard water may ruin white tea, which has very delicate flavors.
Heat water to boiling, then let it cool for five to eight minutes. Alternatively, only boil the water to "first boil". This is when the water begins to boil but has not yet begin to simmer. The temperature at this stage will be 160ºF (71ºC). Bitter brews come from too high a temperature of water on green tea; prefer a longer steeping time at a cooler temperature instead.
Before adding the boiled water to the white tea, it should be no more than 158ºF to 167ºF (70ºC to 75ºC) or 160-170ºF (71-77ºC) at the most.
White tea leaves can withstand longer infusion times than other tea types before pouring. It is usual to steep for 7 to 10 minutes. However, you may wish to experiment with a short steep initially (1 to 3 minutes) and then to graduate to longer steeping times, to find the steeping length you prefer.
Use the same leaves for steeping several cups of white tea, with steeping times increasing as needed. Some sources recommend a 90 second to 2 minute steeping if you intend on steeping the leaves several times.
White tea should be served as it is, unadulterated. Avoid using milk or sugar in the white tea. The already subtle flavor of the tea will be drowned out!