Chinese White Teas

Chinese white teas are incredible feats of production. These teas have represented the pinnacle of sophistication for a thousand years, and no other tea in the world surpasses the subtlety and uniqueness of these teas. Some of the better known Chinese white teas are:

Silver Needle (Yinzhen)
The best of the best, this incredible tea is a fuzzy silver leaf bud (the flowery orange pekoe leaf) that is picked by hand the day before it opens. It is steamed and dried quickly, the result is a tea that looks like its name, a silver needle. This tea has no caffeine and no chlorophyll, and almost no polyphenols. It is light in weight for its size, and is fortunately very forgiving in terms of steeping. It is a very subtle tea with a slightly sweetish taste. The Chinese sometimes add dried rosebud of chrysanthemum to the steep to add to the flavor, which is not necessary, but can certainly be quite flavorful.

While Silver Needle truly is the best of the white teas (and perhaps all teas if you share my opinion), there are a number of others that are flavorful, but not in the same league. Shou Mei (mentioned before in the green tea section) can also be a white tea, but is a more common tea in terms of flavor and complexity. White Peony (Bai Mudan) is another white tea made by tying many leaves of a lower quality tea together to form the shape of a peony flower. It is actually quite good, but again, not quite in the same league as Shinzhen.

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