White teas are primarily grown in China, they are made from the buds of the Camelia sinensis plant. The buds and a few leaves are allowed to wither in natural sunlight, then they are lightly processed to avoid further oxidation. This type of tea is considered "slightly oxidized" or "unfermented". The reason it is called "white tea" is because of the silvery white hairs on the unopened buds of the plant. The infusion itself is more of a pale yellow colour. This style of tea provides the highest antioxidant content than the other Camelia sinensis preparations.
Only the finest buds with the most white hairs are picked in high quality white teas, therefore increasing the price as compared to other teas such as Sencha.
Optimal brewing techniques for most white teas include: 70-80C water (slightly colder than water used for black teas, and about the same as used for greens), 2-5 minutes brew time (the longer you brew it the more bitter it will become), and a ratio of about 1:85 (for example 3g tea, to 250ml water)
Chinese. This white tea is made from plucks with one leaf shoot, 2 immediate young leaves. It has a fuller flavour and greater potency.
India. Darjeeling is available in black, green, oolong, and white. Generally made from the small leaved Chines variety Camellia sinensis var. sinensis rather than most other indian teas (C. sinensis var. assamica). It has a delicate aroma, and brews to pale golden colour with a mellow taste and some sweetness. It is recommended to use a bit more tea leaves than usual when preparing this tea. It is generally grown at altitudes of about 2000 meters.
Pai Mu Tan
Means "white peony". Picked from the secondary bud, and two closest leaves. They are sun dried, and finished with gentle heating to dry. Light bouquet and gentle, delicate flavor.
China. Plucked later than Bai Mudan, causing the tea to be slightly darker in colour.
Silver Needle Tea
China. Regarded as some of the highest quality white tea in China. This tea is hand harvested only 2 days a year. The flavour is very silky and smooth with some sweetness. Use 7-10ml per 250 ml water at 80C, steep for 4-5 minutes. If a stronger flavour is desired, use more leaves.
Meaning silver needles. For this tea, the top most bud is picked early before it has opened, and handeled cautiosly to avoid damaging the fine hairs under the buds. The buds are then sun dried, and finished by heat drying. Flavour is very similar to Pai Mu Tan tea.