Fresh and delicate, loose leaf white tea is a delight for the senses. The prized tea is hand-harvested before the tea plant’s leaves fully open and then is minimally processed to retain a light but captivating flavor. Though delectable on its own, loose white tea takes on new dimensions with the careful addition of special ingredients and flavorings for unique white tea blends. Ready to learn more about this enticing brew?
What's so special about loose white tea?
Loose leaf white tea is harvested from the Camellia sinensis plant at the start of the season before the tea leaves have completely unfurled and while the plant’s buds are covered in fine white fuzz, hence the name. Though white tea comes from the same plant as black tea or green tea, the time of season that it’s harvested and how it’s processed creates a completely different tea drinking experience. The best tasting loose leaf white tea consists of both buds and young leaves that are withered and dried immediately after harvesting to prevent oxidization. (This is the process that darkens tea leaves and changes their flavor. Black tea, for instance, is heavily oxidized.) By limiting oxidization, loose leaf white tea maintains its light flavor and color as well as all tea’s myriad benefits, such as containing a number of antioxidants.
As with other teas, white tea’s characteristics can vary depending on where it is grown and how it is processed. You can find white teas that taste wonderfully light, floral, fruity, honeyed and sweet. The varieties of white tea are phenomenal and often reflect a greater range of colors, flavors and aromas than black or green tea (though it’s often simpler to brew...just see below!). This variety, combined with the short harvest season, makes white tea a constant joy to discover.
All teas should be savored, but white tea is particularly special.
Types of loose white tea
Just as with other types of tea, white tea’s color, flavor, appearance and quality varies depending on where and how it is produced. Traditionally, white tea first came from China’s Fujian province in varieties known as Da Bai and Da Hao. Since the tea only grew in a specific area and was more fragile than other varieties, and therefore more difficult to store or transport, it was a rarity for centuries. Today, Fujian is still established as a primary growing center for white tea, but other regions and countries also cultivate different versions. Some of the most well-known varieties include Bai Hao Yin Zhen (also called Silver Needle), Darjeeling white tea or Bai Mu Dan (also called White Peony). Many of Lumo Tea’s organic loose leaf white tea options are organic Ban Mu Dan, which offers a slightly more robust flavor than other white tea varieties and, as its name suggests, a subtle peony scent when infused.
Health benefits of loose white tea
The health benefits of loose leaf white tea rival those of green tea thanks to its minimal processing. Since the tea leaves aren’t handled as much as green or black tea, the tea’s natural antioxidants are not destroyed.
Though the amount of caffeine in white tea varies depending on the tea plant and its origin, white tea is typically low in caffeine compared to other caffeinated beverages, such as black tea or coffee. The fact that white tea is often brewed at lower temperatures and for a shorter amount of time than other teas also leads to the elixir being lower in caffeine. Additionally, with its quick brewing time, low caffeine and minimal oxidation, white tea is less acidic than black tea or coffee, making it a deliciously gentle drink.
How to brew loose leaf white tea
As with any loose leaf tea, different white teas or white tea blends come with different brewing instructions specific to the type of tea, how it was processed and any added ingredients. Always check the back of your Lumo Tea bag to find exact brewing instructions.
When sharing how much loose leaf white tea per cup to use, we generally recommend steeping a heaping teaspoon of white tea in one cup (eight ounces) of water that’s been heated to 185°F / 85°C. (Always use fresh, cold water that hasn’t been boiled before.)
Though delicate, white tea is surprisingly more forgiving than green or black tea when it comes to steeping time. However, when brewing loose leaf white tea, you can still over steep it, leading to an unwanted bitterness or astringency. Typically we suggest steeping white tea for three minutes and then taste the brew every minute thereafter until the flavor is at your desired level.
To experience the tea’s true flavor, white tea is best enjoyed without any sweeteners or milk. Instead, sip it on its own or accompanied by a light treat. High quality white tea can also be steeped multiple times, evolving with each infusion to release different flavors.
Find the best loose leaf white tea
Choosing loose leaf tea over tea bags always results in a tastier, higher-quality brew but nowhere is this most important than with white tea. The best loose leaf white tea brings out white tea’s unique and delicate complexity like nothing else.
Browse our selection of loose leaf white teas – from pure organic Ban Mu Dan white tea coming straight from China’s Fujian province to celebratory blends featuring luscious white tea complemented with floral blossoms and even Champagne.
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