I’ve talked about tea culture, tea water and some of my personal memories. Now I would like to share with you my personal tea reflections, what are my personal favorites and which teas I would recommend exploring.
Many of the books I have read present this by the six tea types: white, green, yellow, oolong, black and dark tea. Each of these categories is a world in its own. In a series of blogs I would like to share with you my insights, reflections and special moments with each.
For me tea is so much more than just a beverage. It is the opportunity to connect with people. The diversity of this world makes us like different things, have different tastes and perspectives. Once I experienced the entire range it gave me the ability to find something a specific person can enjoy.
I learned not only to make teas I personally like but to prepare tea that will make other people happy and that matches the specific taste desires of others.
My biggest fan is Ms. Tea and her feedback really shaped by understanding of different tastes. She is not a big fan of heavy caffeinated teas – so light white, green and yellow teas as well as infusions (Ms Tea is a big fan of Chamomile) and tisanes are mostly in our daily rotation. She remains open to oolongs (what’s not to like about oolongs?) as it is the special tea for our Chinese tea ceremony.
Sometimes we have house guests and they like a strong black tea so I have a great audience for this type. We do not drink many dark teas, although I have been tasting them as part of my school studies and find them fascinating.
I have a tendency to get carried away in details as there are many avenues to explore and the world seems to be endless when it comes to different teas. This quick journey is by all means not a complete and exhaustive description of all 6 types. These are my most memorable moments and best teas for me personally.
But enough of the generic stuff and let’s dive in to the wonderful world of different teas – let’s start with white teas.
The world of white teas is a delicate one, with a sensitive, light silky taste, almost teasing the taste buds to explore the flavors. White tea flavors and aromas come gently. They are not meant to overpower but to comfort and raise the happiness level.
There are two main types which are popular but there are so much more kinds once you dive deeply into this world. White teas are produced all over the world. China produces quite an amazing range, but I also have personal favorites from Sri Lanka and India. There are some hidden gems from Europe (yes Europe) and Africa but we will get to these later. If you want to start exploring white teas, a Chinese white tea would be a good starting point.
White teas are the purest form of tea – very minimal processing (if at all), a little sun and voila a wonderful tea is born! Of course a lot more then sun goes into the production of these delicate teas but it is the essence and no fermentation happening in this type.
Many very high quality white teas are based on the bud only – the top of the plant with an unopened leaf is the ultimate quality. It takes quite some time to pluck the tea buds and that is reflected in the price. But it is an investment worthwhile as you will be rewarded with an amazing taste.
The common name for these teas in the western world is Silver needles (Chinese Yin Zhen) as the appearance of this tea is silver or white due to the white little hairs attached to the leaf. This is the ultimate quality sign – as this is the freshest and youngest leaf contributing to high quality.
The other leaves below the bud can be also made into white teas – less costly but still a very good quality. You will find descriptions such as Bai Mu Dan or Eyebrow and you will find the texture and structure of full leaves.
There are amazing white teas from Sri Lanka which I purchased myself during my last trip there. Silver and Golden Needles – an amazing flavor – light floral with a delicate honey sweetness – just amazing! I can also highly recommend White teas from Darjeeling – very rare, but an amazing aroma and flavor.
My most favorite white tea is Scottish White tea – absolutely fantastic. This tea comes in two different flavor types – one peach fruity with a nice honey sweetness. Another one is lightly smoked and has a bit more unusual bold character for a white tea and equally amazing. Very pricey as tea grown and produced in Europe is very rare and in very small quantities.
A very unusual white tea is Satemwa Malawi Antler tea. It is completely made from stems which are not processed so it is classified as a white tea. It has an amazing fruit flavor and aroma with a delicate mouth feel you would not expect from an African tea, which normally is known for bold and malty character. There are other countries in Africa which produce white teas such as Tanzania, also an amazing quality.
To brew a white tea is a very sensitive process. Use a temperature of about 50 – 70 C (122 F to 158 F) for about 5 minutes. The brewing time of white teas is on the longer side. The Yin Zhen in my favorite tea house takes 12 minutes to steep!
A white tea is also an amazing base for flavored and scented teas. Many tea retailers take a white tea as a starting point to make delicate fruit or floral flavors shine. In the next post I will give you an insight on one of my favorite tea types – green teas.