What Is White Tea?

Tea just seems so much fancier than coffee. There’s so much ritual and pageantry in serving and drinking tea. And of all those fancy teas, white tea seems the fanciest. What is white tea? What does white tea taste like? What’s it smell like? Does white tea have caffeine? Let’s talk white tea. 

What is white tea?

When you hear “white tea” you kind of just assume it’s a tea that’s white, right? Well, it’s not called white tea because of the tea’s color. White tea is a minimally processed tea that comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. Green tea and black tea come from the same plant. The differences are due to the way in which the tea is processed. White tea is harvested before the leaves on the plant completely open. The small, unopened buds have a light coating of fine white hair. That’s where the name white tea comes from. When making black, green, and oolong teas, the leaves are picked later and then allowed to oxidize. The young white tea buds are dried immediately so that there’s no oxidation. Black tea is oxidized the most and white tea is oxidized the least.

What does white tea taste like? 

White tea tastes like a light tea. White tea is the most delicately flavored and lightest of the bunch. Young white tea can smell like grass and reeds while older white tea has a hint of rice and barley. It’s sometimes floral, sometimes fruity and always refreshing.

Does white tea have caffeine?

All tea that comes from the Camellia sinensis plant naturally has caffeine in it. You’d think that since white tea is the lightest, it would have the least amount of caffeine. But that’s not true. In its dried state, white tea contains more caffeine than black tea. But the amount of caffeine in the tea you drink is largely determined by how long you let it brew and at what temperature of water. Since white tea is usually brewed for a short amount of time it ends up not having too much caffeine by the time you drink it. 

What is white tea good for?

You hear that tea is supposedly good for you, but why is that? White tea in particular is packed full of antioxidants. Those things help protect your cells from free radicals. White tea has been linked to helping fight cancer, better heart health, protecting against parkinsons and Alzheimer’s, preventing osteoporosis, and studies have suggested that it could raise your metabolism helping you to lose weight. White tea has all sorts of potential health benefits, some of which are still being studied and discovered. White tea is a tasty, healthy way to get a little caffeine in the morning, which is why I usually switch to drinking white tea after my fifth cup of coffee.

About the Author

Will Morgan

Will Morgan, a freelance contributor to Sporked, is an L.A. based writer, actor, and sketch comedy guy. Originally from Houston, TX, he strongly believes in the superiority of breakfast tacos to breakfast burritos. Will traveled the world as one of those people that did yoyo shows at elementary school assemblies, always making a point to find local and regional foods to explore in whatever place he was, even in rinky-dink towns like Tilsonberg, ON. Will spends his birthdays at Benihana’s. Let him know if can make it.

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