White tea is increasing in popularity all over the world. It is made from immature growth buds and young leaves. The buds have a fine covering of white hair, giving the tea its name. These are steamed or fired to stop polyphenol oxidation and then dried. Chlorophyll formation is also stopped.

White tea is more expensive than other teas. The best tea is produced in Darjeeling in India; it is also grown in China and Japan. The different varieties have exotic names: white peony, golden moon, silver needle and white cloud. White tea can go up to US $25 for a 2-oz. tin.

High quality white tea is selected in the beginning of spring. There should be no rain or frost on the ground, but there should be plenty of early morning dew. The buds should be perfect and not purple in color. The buds are rejected even if they have begun to open, are hollow, too long or too thin. A single bud with only three to four leaves is also rejected.

White tea is best made in filtered water or light spring water. It should not be heated too much; the right temperature should be between 175 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit. The measure is 1.5 tablespoons of white tea per eight ounces of water in a cup or teapot. After the water gets hot, pour it over the tea and let it infuse for two minutes. Some people reuse tea leaves but the flavor just isn’t the same.

White tea is full of catechins, usually found in fresh tea leaves, which has been found to help in DNA repair. It has less caffeine than other types of tea, with more cancer-fighting antioxidants. A study has noted that white tea can help fight off viruses and dangerous infection-causing bacteria.

There are many people who are very specific about the white tea they drink, and ask for tea leaves of one special brand. Today, white tea is a connoisseur’s choice, enjoyed for its gentle aroma and delicate flavor.

Richard Romando