White teas originated in the Fujian province of China, and are produced in limited quantities in only a few parts of the world.
Hand-plucking and careful handling create these delicate teas, once considered an Emperor’s tribute. Two different cultivars are used to produce white tea, the Da Bai type and the Zhen He type. Best white tea is made entirely from Fuding’s original Da Bai bush type, known for having buds that are bigger, richer, fatter and more numerous than the Zhen He cultivar. Additionally, Fuding’s Silver Needle white tea touts the claim of being the original, invented in 1796, much earlier than Zhen He’s.
As opposed to green tea or black tea, white teas are simply withered and occasionally baked during processing. This simple manufacturing style can result in the silvery-white buds of our Silver Needle, which are only the buds or Bai Mu Dan, White Peony, consisting of a twig of a bud and 2 to 3 leaves.
Withering is traditionally made in the open air and the skill of the tea planter lies in accurately predicting weather conditions and managing the timing of the plucking accordingly.
The buds are spread on bamboo plates or mats and placed under the weak sunshine or if weather conditions do not allow it, in a room, with good aeration, until the moisture is reduced to 10-30%.
After that, the processing steps involve an oven-bake of buds or buds and leaves at very low heat or a further drying naturally under the sun.
Usually, the moisture of the finished tea is about 8-10%. Extremely rich in anti-oxidant compounds, the round, soft, delicate taste of white tea needs a quite long infusion time and a water temperature lower than 80°C.