White tea 白茶 [bái chá] is a kind of very light fermented tea, the special tea kind of the six big Chinese tea kinds, which are white, yellow, green, oolong, black and dark teas. After a harvesting, fresh leaves need to withering, dry in the sun or dry with a gentle heat, unlike other tea processes, white tea leaves is lack of rolling processes. The good manufactured white teas are mainly buds with white hair as snow or silver, white teas in China are always used as herbal medicines.
The processing techniques are mainly two steps: withering and drying, the most important one is withering, which includes indoor or/and outdoor sun withering. White tea could only dry with gentle heat at a low temperature till the water content reaching 4-5%, so these processing techniques would not destroy enzyme activities, and not promote oxidations, in order to keep the original hair fragrances and fresh tastes. Recently, new white tea processing techniques also add a light rolling procedure to make the dry tea shapes more regular, for example, Bai Mu Dan dry tea leaves are more like a White Peony.
The white tea of the Hubei Province is a valuable and rare variety of tea trees, which has been transplanted from the Anji White Tea 安吉白茶variety of the Zhejiang Province to Hubei Enshi and Wudang areas. According to its processing procedures including frying and rolling, Hubei/ Anji white tea should be considered strictly as a kind of green tea, only because this variant’s new sprouting leaves are jade white, we call it white tea. Like other green tea processes, after withering, Hubei/Anji white tea leaves (1 shoot and 1 leaf ) should be fried, gently dried and then frozen at 0- 5℃ to keep the jade color.
In 1930, tens of wild white tea trees were found in Xiaofeng Town, Anji , Zhejiang province, and the Anji county annals recorded, that new sprouts were white like jade, which turned to yellow after drying and were produced by the local Jinguang temple. After that time, these trees can not be traced, until a hundred year old white tea has be noticed at the 800 meter high Tianhuangping Town, local people call it Da Xi white tea. In 1980s, this valuable tea variety has been protected by the goverment scientific research personnel and succeeded in the asexual reproduction.
In springs, new sprouts and tender leaves’s colors are changing with the temperature, from bright yellow to jade white, and the leaf veins are emerald green, looking like a blossoming of Yulan magnolia. This phase is called the Flourishing white stage, one sprout and two leaves are the right shape to be harvest, after this phase, mature leaves turn to pea green, and new sprouts in summers and autumns are light green. Recent years researches show that, Anji white tea is a stable temperature-sensitive mutant from genetic mutations.
Dry tea is emerald green with light yellow color, wet fragrances are like grass and bean, tastes are sweet and fresh without any bitterness.
Hubei/Anji white tea‘s amino acid content is the double of other green teas, a low content of tea polyphenols makes it taste less bitter than other green teas. Wet leaves are extreme beautiful, jade white and lightly transparent blades with green leaf veins.