Why not give your tea pot a break from the norm and brew a pot of luxurious white tea instead? Only harvested in the Fujian Province of China for a few weeks of the year, white tea was once considered so special that only royalty could drink it!Thankfully, white tea is available to all of us nowadays, and in this article, we look at some of the best white tea currently available. We also consider what makes white tea so special and how it has been linked to health benefits such as reduced risk of heart disease as well as how it may help skin aging and weight loss.
The Numi Organic Tea orange spice white tea is our sustainable, kosher and halal best pick for a spicier introduction to white tea.
The jasmine-infused hand rolled Harney & Sons Dragon Pearl Jasmine white tea is our floral budget pick of the white teas.
Table of Contents
- Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best White Tea
- 1. Numi Organic Tea Orange Spice White Tea
- 2. Harney & Sons Dragon Pearl Jasmine White Tea
- 3. Uncle Lee’s Tea Organic White Tea
- 4. Jocko White Tea RELOAD
- 5. Prince of Peace Organic White Tea
- 6. Teavana Youthberry White Tea
- 7. VAHDAM Himalayan Imperial White Tea
- 8. Numi Organic Tea White Rose White Tea
- 9. The Republic of Tea Emperor’s White Tea
- 10. Twinings of London 100% Pure White Tea
- Things to Consider Before Buying White Tea
Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best White Tea
1. Numi Organic Tea Orange Spice White Tea
A blend of organic white tea, orange peel, Schisandra berries, lemongrass and spices, the Numi Organic Tea orange spice white tea is also Non-GMO Project Verified. It is free from any artificial additives and a five to seven minute steep is suggested in freshly boiled water.This white tea blend is also kosher, halal, gluten free, carbon free and uses sustainable packaging. The manufacturer is a B Corporation social enterprise. This 16 oz resealable pack of white tea blend is a balance of citrus with spice although some drinkers consider that the spice flavors, especially cloves and cinnamon, overpower the other flavors of the tea. This blend also contains more cinnamon, orange peel and cloves than white tea.
2. Harney & Sons Dragon Pearl Jasmine White Tea
The 20 tea bag tin of Harney & Sons Dragon Pearl Jasmine white tea contains hand-rolled white tea pearls made from leaves and buds that have been infused with jasmine flower essence. The tea bags are silk pyramids to allow the pearls to unfurl properly during steeping. This light-colored tea has been hand rolled in Fuan, northern Fujian Province and its flavor is medium bodied with a jasmine and floral aroma.
This is a lightly caffeinated tea and is also kosher. The jasmine aroma can overpower the delicate white tea in this and may leave it lacking in flavor. Some drinkers have also found that it this tea is left steeping for too long it will become bitter.
3. Uncle Lee’s Tea Organic White Tea
Harvested from the Fujian Province where it is grown without the use of any pesticides, Uncle Lee’s Tea organic white tea undergoes little processing. This tea has a mildly sweet, complex and subtle taste and comes as a pack of 100 individually wrapped tea bags.The color can be darker than other white teas and it may lack flavor, which means you may prefer to brew two or three bags per cup. This tea is also kosher certified.
4. Jocko White Tea RELOAD
The Jocko white tea pomegranate is a blend of white tea, hibiscus, lemongrass, dried pomegranate and natural flavors. It does not contain any artificial flavors. The 100 tea bags are individually packaged although there can be a risk of damage to the packaging.This blend may also lack some flavor and it is not currently certified organic, although the manufacturer has confirmed that the ingredients are all organic and they are working towards certification.
5. Prince of Peace Organic White Tea
The certified USDA organic Prince of Peace organic white tea comes as a pack of 100 tea bags which are individually wrapped for freshness. A three to five minute steep in hot water is suggested for brewing. This Peony White tea is processed in the Zhenge-style which gives the tea a deeper color, richer aroma and fuller body. The tea bags can be prone to damage and you may need to brew two or more bags per cup to increase its flavor.
6. Teavana Youthberry White Tea
The Teavana Youthberry flavored white tea blend contains white tea, mango, hibiscus, orange and rose petals. This comes as four packs of 15 pyramid bags or sachets which will need steeping for two minutes at 175°F. Some have found this blend to be weak and choose to brew with two bags and other drinkers have found that the florals sometimes overpower the fruit flavors.
This blend is not currently organic although the manufacturer is committed to ethically sourced teas and sustainable farming practices.
7. VAHDAM Himalayan Imperial White Tea
Harvested from the Himalayan foothills, the VAHDAM Himalayan imperial white tea is lightly oxidized and has a bright color with a sweet and mellow flavor. This needs a four to five minute steep at 176°F to 194°F for its best flavor. This smaller pack of 1.76 oz of loose tea is vacuum packaged and comes with an aluminum lined zipper bag to store the tea in once opened.
Some drinkers will not be as keen on the taste of this white tea as it is an Indian white tea rather than a ‘true’ white tea from Fujian.
8. Numi Organic Tea White Rose White Tea
A blend of white tea and whole organic rosebuds, the Numi Organic Tea white rose white tea does not contain any artificial ingredients. This box of 16 tea bags has a sweet and fragrant flavor and is certified Non-GMO Project Verified, USDA organic, Fair Trade, carbon free and Certified B Corporation.Some have found that this blend is lacking any rose aroma or flavor and there can be a risk of the packaging arriving damaged.
9. The Republic of Tea Emperor’s White Tea
Grown in the Fujian Province, The Republic of Tea Emperor’s White brews to a pale yellow color with a delicate and light grassy flavor which is faintly sweet. The price of this white tea is reflected in the fact that it is harvested by hand for only two days of the year.The 50 count of tea bags come in a reusable tin and the tea bags are unbleached and do not contain any chemicals, strings or staples. This tea can turn bitter if left to steep too long and if the water is slightly too hot it will ruin its flavor.
10. Twinings of London 100% Pure White Tea
The delicately and smooth flavored Twinings of London 100% pure white tea comes as a pack of 20 individually wrapped tea bags. Hand selected in the Fujian Province; this is a more oxidized tea as it darkens to more of a bronze color although it can still lack flavor compared to other white teas.
Things to Consider Before Buying White Tea
White tea is the new and young buds and tea leaves from a specific Camellia sinensis (tea) plant known as the Da Bai Hao tea bush. It gets its name from the silver colored down called ‘Hao’ which covers the buds and leaves. White tea can only be harvested during a few spring weeks from the northern district of Fujian in China on dry and non-humid days. Because white tea is harvested so early in the year, this gives it a more delicate and sweeter flavor than green tea. Only white teas which come from Fujian province are ‘true’ white teas.
References to white tea have been found as far back as the Tang Dynasty (618-907). At this time white tea would be in a compressed cake which would be broken up and steeped in an earthenware kettle. It became popular during the later Song Dynasty (920-1269) but only royals could drink it.
A ruling made by the royal court during the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644) stated that only loose white tea could be served in tribute to the emperor which meant that its processing methods had to change to produce the tea in the form that it is still known today.
After harvesting, white tea is almost immediately naturally dried (a process called ‘withering’) through heated vents, sunlight or wind drying chambers. This is unlike green teas which are fired or steamed at this point to prevent further oxidation. Withering helps preserve the polyphenol antioxidants in the tea and also allows it to oxidize slightly.
Once the tea has been withered it undergoes very light roasting and this gives it its light and floral taste and aroma. How the tea is processed depends on the region, the climate and even the local traditions, although todays techniques only date back to the late 18th century, when the Xiao family created an economical white tea process to eliminate pan frying, shaping and roasting.
White tea is usually more expensive than some green teas and most black teas. This is mainly due to the labor-intensive and skilled hand harvesting of the tiny leaves from the tea plant. Because it is only harvested for a few weeks of the year in certain weather conditions, this also limits its production and drives up its price.
Types of White Tea
Silver Needle (Yi Zhen Bai Hao) is the premium and single source white tea containing the largest unopened and juicy buds with long and fine or needle-like silvery tips. The shapes should be uniform, and the tea should not contain any leaves or stems. Its infusion is silky smooth and its flavor delicate, a combination of light vegetal/woodsy notes and honeysuckle with a honey sweetness which lingers.
Bai Mu Dan or White Peony is also a single source white tea. This tea is made up of unopened smaller buds along with two emerald green leaves. This gives a pale golden brew which is delicate with some nutty and melon and honey flavors. Because White Peony lingers on the palate it is often used in white tea blends.
Shou Mei (Noble, Long Life Eyebrow) is often made up of the teas unsuitable for sale as White Needle or White Peony. Harvested slightly later in the season it is more oxidized, darker colored and has a bolder flavor more like that of an oolong. Like Shou Mei, Tribute Eyebrow (Gongmei) made of less quality teas. This is young leaves without buds and has a fuller and darker flavor with a bold finish.
A newer tea, first developed in the late 1960s, Fujian New Craft (DaBaiCha or DaHoaCha) comes from Fuding in China and its long and curly leaves with a rich green-brown color give it the appearance of a black tea. This lacks the delicacy of other white teas and it has a fuller flavor yet a mild fragrance.
Other white teas include Ceylon white tea from Sri Lanka, Darjeeling white tea from India, as well as many blended and flavored white teas. As teas from other regions are made from different varieties, they often contain less antioxidants and will have a different caffeine content to a true white tea.
Difference Between White, Green and Black Teas
As well as white tea being made mainly from the buds of the tea plant it has a delicate and fruity flavor, sometimes with notes of hay or milk chocolate. Green tea has more of a vegetal taste and can be sweet or bittersweet. Black teas are fruity, dark and bold. They also differ across their concentrations of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds.
Caffeine Content of White Tea
There has been some debate around the caffeine content of white tea. A traditional white tea from Fujian is very low in caffeine as the tea plant it is harvested from is naturally low caffeine. It may contain as little as 6 milligrams or as much as 25 milligrams of caffeine per cup.
However, white teas grown in other regions can contain higher levels of caffeine, up to as much as 60 milligrams of caffeine with one study showing that Indian white tea contained more caffeine than Ceylon black tea.
As a white tea is usually brewed for less time than more processed teas are, this also contributes to a lower caffeine content.
Preparing White Tea
White tea is best prepared as a green tea. You will need more leaf than other teas – around one tablespoon of loose leaf per cup will give a better brew. White tea made with water heated to around 170°F to 180°F and allowed to steep for between four and five minutes will usually give the best cup. If the water is too hot is the leaves will overcook and turn astringent. White tea can re-steeped several times.
White Tea and Heart Health
The polyphenols in white tea are linked with lower risk of heart disease as they may be able to stop LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol from being oxidized. They may also help our blood vessels to relax and they are linked with boosting immunity. All of these factors may help lower risk of heart disease, in fact when five studies were analyzed, the researchers found that those who drank three or more cups of tea every day had 21% lower risk of heart disease.
White Tea for Weight Loss
Like green tea, white tea has also been linked with weight loss. Both teas contain EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) which is a catechin linked to fat burning when combined with the caffeine which green and white teas also contain. An extract of white tea was able to prevent the formation of new fat cells and stimulate the breakdown of fats in a laboratory study.
White tea may also be able to boost our metabolism by burning an extra 70 to 100 calories per day. As yet, there have been no long-term studies around white tea and weight loss; perhaps because white tea is drunk by fewer of us when compared to green or black teas.
Free radicals and chronic inflammation are linked to speeding up osteoporosis by suppressing the cells which lay down new bone and encouraging the cells which break down the bone. Catechins have also shown to be affective in suppressing down the cells which break down bone tissue in osteoporosis. Mostly seen in women over the age of 50, osteoporosis can reduce quality of life and increase risk of fractures.
Although tannins in tea are often a direct cause of teeth staining, the tannins in white tea alongside fluoride and flavonoids can inhibit salivary amylase which actually reduces the potential for starchy foods to contribute to cavities. White tea contains fluoride in enough quantity to make it effective in helping reduce dental caries and the flavonoids - in particular the catechins - are able to inhibit the growth of plaque bacteria.
White Tea and Skin Aging
Elastin in the body acts as an elastic tissue in the skin, arteries, lungs and ligaments and it also helps tissue repair and prevents skin from sagging. As we age, elastin levels decline and wrinkles and sagging of the skin increase. The protein collagen is also important for the strength and elasticity of the skin.
White tea has been shown to prevent certain enzyme (elastase and collagenase) activity which breaks down the collagen and elastin in the skin to cause wrinkles. These same enzymes are also linked to inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. The research into this only used very small amounts of white tea, less than we would actually drink.
Sun damage also damages the skin over time and one study showed that white tea extract applied to the skin helped protect the skin from some of the effects of UV.
Internal body aging is often caused by free radical damage, and the antioxidants in white tea are known to help prevent some free radical damage.
White tea has also been linked with being beneficial for helping lower the risk of insulin resistance which is linked to diabetes and heart disease often as we age. White tea may also be able to play a protective role against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease and it could have some potential as an anti-cancer agent.
The limited availability of white tea and its delicate flavor is often ignored for bolder green and black teas. In this article we considered what makes white tea so desirable, its processing, its traditions and what you should look for when choosing a white tea. We have also discussed some of the potential health benefits that white tea can offer us and although there has not been as much research into white tea, what there has been to date is promising.We hope that you have enjoyed our article on choosing the best white tea for a luxury and delicate brew and if you have yet to try white tea, we hope that we have convinced you to brew a pot and see for yourself why white tea was once the drink of Emperors!