White Tea: Health Benefits, Brewing Methods, History

King of Silver Needles White Tea

White tea (Chinese: 白茶; pinyin: báichá),  is made from the buds and young leaves of the tea plant. These leaves are withered and dried naturally under semi-controlled conditions. If mechanical drying is required the leaves are baked (not fired) at temperatures less that 40°C. Because of these special growing and harvesting procedures, white tea has higher concentrations of catechins than other types of tea. Catechins are the antioxidants in tea responsible for antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer properties. White tea has also been found to help prevent rheumatoid arthritis and age associated wrinkles.

White tea has a very delicate taste—very different from other teas. While green tea tends to be grassier and more robust, white tea has a more subtle sweetness and floral quality. This makes it an ideal everyday tea, with its calm caffeine boost.

White tea blends well with various fruits. Our Peach White and Mango Pear White are examples of popular flavored blends. Our most popular unflavored white tea selection is King of Silver Needles.

Health Benefits

Compared to other teas, white tea is the heavy hitter of health benefits. A study at Kingston University in 2009 showed that white tea has high anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-collagenase, and anti-elastase properties which could potentially reduce the risks of developing rheumatoid arthritis, some cancers, heart disease and slow the enzymatic break-down of elastin and collagen, traits which accompany aging. The same study evaluated 20 other popular plant and herb extracts and found that white tea considerably outperformed all of them.

A Pace University study has shown that white tea has more effective antiviral and antibacterial properties than green tea. The study revealed that white tea extract may help slow viruses and bacterial growth, thus reducing the incidence of staphylococcus and streptococcus infections, pneumonia, fungus growth, and even dental plaque.

Brewing Methods

Hot tea brewing method: When preparing by the cup, this tea can be used repeatedly - about 3 times. The secret is to use water that is about 180°F  or 90°C. Place 1-2 heaping teaspoons per 6 ounce cup and let the tea steep for 3 minutes. Once the water level is low - add more water, and so on - until the tea flavor is exhausted.

Iced tea brewing method: Heat water to 180°F  or 90°C. Place 2 heaping teaspoons per 6 ounce cup and let the tea steep for 3 minutes. Remove tea from water after steeping. Add ice. Our Peach White and Mango Pear White are excellent iced tea blends.

White tea is excellent for brewing in any one of our fine Yixing teapots.


White tea originated in China; however, the history of white tea is contested and complicated. Finding adequate citation is not easy when discussing China's teas in general because the system of knowledge is often orally transmitted. Scholars and tea merchants generally disagree as to when the first production of white tea (as it is understood in China today) began. What is today known as white tea may have come into creation in the last two centuries. White tea may have first appeared in English publication in 1876, where it is categorized as a black tea because it is not initially cooked like a green tea, to deactivate internal enzymes and external microbes. It is worth noting that at this time Hanson only identified two types of tea, black and green.

When working loosely with sources, claims are made that white tea is the oldest type of tea for various reasons, though it should be noted that among university-appointed tea scholars in China, debate focuses on whether green or black tea (known as "red tea" in China) is the oldest form of tea, and white tea is conspicuously absent from this dialogue. Stories do appear referring to a "white" tea as the preferred tea of Chinese royalty, where it was first produced during the Tang Dynasty (618‒907 A.D.). For some time, only the emperor and his courtiers would drink white tea as it was rare and expensive. However, this "white" tea was produced differently than it is today. At this time leaves were compressed into cakes. By 1200 A.D., around the time of the Song Dynasty, immature silver white leaf-buds were immediately steamed, dried, and ground into a powder. Another story discusses the need for those who pick white tea to be virgins so that their fingers will not crush the buds when they are harvested. It is likely that these stories do not refer to white process tea but rather to the picking of undamaged buds, which can then be used to make any of the six types of tea.

White Tea Face Mask Recipe

Take advantage of the natural anti-wrinkle properties of white tea with this face mask recipe:

1. Brew a pot of white tea. Allow to cool

2. Mix 3 tablespoons of cool tea with 3 or 4 tablespoons of rice flour. Add just enough rice flour so that the mixture is smooth and spreadable, but not runny. Add more tea if it is too thick.

Optional: Add some fruit, such as banana and/or mango. Banana moisturizes and mango cleanses, making these ideal choices for masks. Mash it up in the mix.

3. Wash your face with your regular cleanser. Dry your face gently with a clean towel.

4. Apply the mask to your face.

5. Leave it on for 15 minutes.

6. Rinse it off with lots of water, rubbing the mask to exfoliate your skin

7. Apply your regular moisturizer when you are done.

View our white tea selection