Sunday, June 15, 2008

What is White Tea?

Generally speaking, all true tea comes from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. The difference between Matcha and Earl Grey isn't in the species, but in the processing of the leaves.
Black tea gets the full treatment, being withered, rolled, fermented, and dried to coax out its deep, slightly bitter flavor. Freshly picked green tea, on the other hand, is allowed to dry, then oxidized to prevent fermentation. Oolong is semi-fermented, in between black and green in appearance and flavor, and is never rolled, so the leaves are kept whole. And for the production of white tea, new tea buds and leaves are plucked and dried--that's it.
The resulting brew is light-colored and refreshing, with a clean and subtle taste. It's also said to be lower in caffiene than green or black, and a 2004 study found that it's even better at beating the crap out of germs than green tea!
If you can't stand the bite of black or the toasty punch of green, white tea just might be for you. Mild-mannered, it pairs well with herbal and fruit blends. Two to try:

Organic Vanilla Apple White Tea by Celestial Seasonings
Fresh, sweet, and cidery. You're just about drinking August in Vermont.

Pomegranate White Tea with Açaî by Honest Tea
Tangy, with a double punch of antioxidants. It comes in a bottle, and you can most definitely find it at Whole Foods. Enjoy!

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