Being one of the six types of tea, White Tea is a unique export tea of Fujian Province. The traditional making method of white tea is distinctive from other types of tea, without the process of roast and rolling. Dry tea leaves are covered with white pekoes, presents a silver white color, and the tea liquid has light color.
There are different kinds of white tea, including Silver Needle, White Peony, Gong Mei. In 1796, Silver Needle White Tea was firstly made in Fuding, Fujian of the buds of Cai Cha tea trees. The material of making Silver Needle was changed into the buds of Fu Ding da bai cha trees. The buds are thick and straight, as white as silver.
The Making of Silver Needle White Tea
White Tea has simpler making method than other teas. Traditionally the making of White Tea has two procedures: withering and drying, which are not distinct from each other. The withering of white tea takes a long time. Water in the fresh tea leaves gradually decline during withering, in the mean time tea leaves start to slowly change in appearance and inclusion. That’s how White Tea is made.
Fresh Tea Leaves of Silver Needle White Tea
The quality of fresh tea leaves is the key of white tea’s appearance. White Tea’s quality is also strongly affected by the weather during the time of picking and producing. Sunshine days, or dry and cool climate, can produce the best Silver Needle White Tea.
Unique Skill of Making White Tea – The Northern (Fuding) Producing Method
After picked, fresh tea buds and leaves will be spread on flat bamboo baskets under sun light for a day, till water amount in the leaves declines to 12%-20%. Then pick out the buds that opened into leaves, roast the rest qualified buds with round bamboo roasting basket. Before put tea buds on the bamboo tray to roast, a piece of white paper must be laid on the tray, in order to avoid burns on buds because of heat, so that the leaves could have white pekoe and silver color. Each roasting basket holds 0.25 kg tea leaves. Roasting at 40-50℃ for 30 minutes can make the tea leaves completely dry. Temperature is an important factor of roasting. High temperature will make the bud turn red without its characteristic flavor. On the other hand, if the temperature is too low, the tea leaves will be too moist which results in a dark color and poor quality of the tea. Moreover, if the tea is roast for too long, the leaves will become yellowish and its quality will be affected.
How to Wither the Tea Leaves in Non-Ideal Weather Condition
White Tea must be withered under natural condition, thus its making process is often influenced by weather. If it is hot and muggy, the tea leaves will still restrain 30% - 40% water after a whole day’s drying in the sunshine. A continuous in-door withering is needed in the night. On the next day dry the tea leaves under sunshine again. Till the water amount in tea leaves decline to 10%, roast the leaves with soft fire to completely dry.
If the tea leaves are picked in overcast and rainy days, after a whole day’s drying outdoors, the leaves need to be roasted in the night at the temperature of 65℃. When leaves become grayish green color, put them aside and let them cool down, and then roast again at 50℃ till the leaves are completely dry.
In order to avoid the defects of Silver Needle withered in rainy days as many as possible, the full roasting method is adopted. Full roasting method means to roast the fresh tea leaves before withering, at the temperature of 90-100℃. When the leaves lose 60% to 70%’s weight, spread the leaves and then wither. After that roast the leaves to completely dry. This method has strict requirement of the amount of tea leaves.
This is the reason why we meet the Silver Needle of different quality from our expectation.
Better Brew the Newly Produced Silver Needle White Tea
As we know, white tea is made by picking, withering, and roasting. However, different tea maker has different skills of roasting. So, if you happen to have some white tea smells like heavily roasted, you can deal with the tea in the following ways:
1. Put the tea in dry and airy place away from sunshine for one or two weeks. After the heavy roast flavor fades away, you can brew the tea in the recommended brewing guide of TeaVivre.
2. If you want to drink the tea as soon as you get it, you can brew it with water of lower temperature than the recommended temperature, in the mean time shorten the infusion time. In this way you can adjust the tea’s flavor to be more like the normal flavor.
Distinguishing High Grade from Low Grade by the Buds and Leaves
There are various factors existing in the making process of white tea that will influence its appearance. Thus by distinguishing different appearance of the white tea, we can know its quality.
Wet Tea Leaves
Wet tea leaves are the tea leaves after brewed, called as ye di in Chinese. Excellently made tea has glossy green wet leaves, and thick and smooth in appearance. Besides, after brewed, the more complete the tea leaves are, the higher grade it will be. The white tea of lower grade has thinner buds and leaves, as well as less strong and glossy.
Choose Better Quality White Tea by Tea Liquid
Normally the liquid of high grade white tea is very light in color. Yet if a white tea has been stored for a long time, its liquid will have deeper color because of the natural fermentation. The longer the tea is roasted, the deeper color its liquid will be. White teas roasted at higher temperature will also have deeper color liquid. White tea liquid in deeper color has heavier flavor.
The grade of White Tea can be judged from its making process, appearance, tea liquid and so on. The grade will also be influenced by its origin place, tea tree specie and weather condition. A tea’s flavor and taste is mainly determined by its grade. High grade tea can be brewed for many steeps, while lower grade tea has less steeps and can be more bitter. To brew low grade tea with lower temperature and shorter time can help to avoid the bitter and astringent taste. Our high grade white teas has brisk and fresh aroma, heavy and mellow flavor with sweet aftertaste.