Library Blog

National Hot Tea Month: White Tea Spotlight

White cup of hot tea
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You might have noticed a trend here on the PLYMC blog page of a few entries about tea. That’s because January is National Hot Tea Month, and we’re coming at you with the realness on how to prepare different types of tea, as well as some basic history and trivia about each type of tea. This week we’re featuring white teas, which are known to be the lightest and most delicate of teas.  

White tea is very young and unprocessed tea, generally. The tea leaves and buds are usually picked before they are ripe, so to speak, in order to create a more natural tea. The leaves and buds are usually airdried for 72 hours after picking, and there are a few different varieties.  

The most popular varieties of white tea are Bai Hao Yin Zhen, Bai Mudan, Shoumei, and Darjeeling White Tea. Bai Hao Yin Zhen, also known as Silver Needle, comes from the Fujian province of China and it’s made from buds with white, downy hairs that give the tea the silver color it’s named for. Bai Mudan, also known as White Peony, is a newer variety of white tea and has a bit of a fuller flavor than other white tea varieties as it is made with more parts of the tea plant. Shoumei is a white tea with a bit of a fruity flavor and is made from naturally withered leaves that produce a fuller tea flavor. Darjeeling white tea is grown in the Darjeeling region of India and is a sweeter flavored white tea. In general, people are more familiar with Darjeeling tea as a black tea, but there are white and green Darjeeling varieties as well.  

So now that you know about some different types of white tea, how do you go about brewing itBrewing white tea is an interesting combination that uses the heat level of green tea with the steeping time of black tea. You want water that is just below boiling (about 170 degrees) and you will use two teaspoons of loose tea for every 6 ounces of water. Once you pour the water over your leaves (in whatever container you prefer – tea ball, bag, French press), you’ll want to let it steep for five to eight minutes, depending on how deep you want the flavor to be. Like green tea leaves, you can save these leaves and use them again for a second cup, though the steeping time for a second cup shortens to two to three minutes. Some white teas require longer steeping times, like Silver Needle tea, which can require up to 15 minutes of steeping! 

You may be thinking If I’m steeping my tea for that long, won’t it get cold?, which is a great question! Usually, because white tea takes so long to steep, it’s recommended that you warm up your tea cup prior to pouring the tea in. To do this, you would just take some of the hot water you brewed for the tea and swirl it around in the cup until the cup gets warm, then toss away the excess water and pour your tea into the cup. White tea is also a very refreshing tea to have iced, if you’re a fan of iced teas! 

White tea is usually drank plain, without any sweeteners or milks, but if you’re feeling like sweetening things up, honey or agave might be a good choice! 

drinking white teaIf you like to listen to music while you’re sipping on your tea of choice, my personal mellow favorites are Sipping Through the Afternoon and Elegant Classics for the Perfect High Tea, which are both available to listen on Hoopla 

Happy sipping, and check back next week for our entry on herbal tea where we will share surprising varieties of teas that you can make from your own garden! 

Taylor S.

By day, Taylor is your run of the mill, cardigan-wearing librarian, but by night, she is a cross-stitching, history-loving, classic-movie-watching baker who is carrying on a continuous attempt to sew her own capsule wardrobe. She is probably reading two or three books at any given time.