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China Tea ep. 32 – White Tea | Sunday Tea Book | Sip-a-long – Bai Hao Yin Zhen Top Grade 2019

White Tea

From its name we might guess that white tea means that the tea leaves or the liquor is white, but that’s not why it’s named white tea. The name comes from the white fuzz on the tips and the backs of the tea leaves. White tea is detoxifying, great for soothing toothaches, and preventing sunstroke.

Sneak Peek

White tea is slightly oxidized. China is the only country in the world that produces white tea. White tea mainly comes from Fujian province. Taiwan also produces a small amount of white tea. 

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, white tea has a cooling property, helping to balance the heat in the body. Some popular white teas include: Yin Zhen, Bai Mu Dan, Gong Mei, Shou Mei, etc. Bai Hao Yin Zhen is tea buds covered with silver fuzz, as straight as needles. It’s considered one of the most beautiful teas, thus winning it lots of love from tea drinkers.


Bai Hao Yin Zhen – Top Grade 2019


Dry Leaf: Fresh floral meadows
Liquor Colour: Hazy and almost clear
Liquor Aroma: Subtle sweetness
Flavour: Sweet with light nuttiness and fresh meadow-iness
Mouthfeel: Immediately thick and luscious.

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The basic process of white tea making is withering and sun drying or low heat drying. The key step is withering. The traditional white tea process doesn’t have pan-firing or rolling, therefore the liquor and taste is relatively light. Big leaf cultivars have strong and sturdy new shoots and are rich in substance. The tea made with such cultivars has sturdy dry leaves, is more durable when brewing and has a richer taste.


Liquor is bright yellow.


White tea has a clean, brisk sweetness. Pure, balanced aroma. Brewed leaves are uniformed, tender and radiant.

Basic types of white tea

Bai Ya Cha (white bud tea, 白芽茶): bai hao yin zhen, etc.

Bai Ye Cha (white leaf tea, 白叶茶): bai mu dan, gong mei, etc.


The list below helps identify the quality of white tea:

  1. Look: in terms of tenderness, sturdy, strong and tender with more fuzz is better. Skinny, slim buds are less desired. Buds and leaves with mixed tenderness, old leaves and stems are inferior.
  2. Luster: silver fuzz with luster, tea buds/leaves grey green, dark green, or tender green are good quality. Iron color is less desired. Grassy green, yellow, dark, red, dull are inferior.
  3. Bud/Leaf: leaves/buds are relaxed and open with curves at the edge. Gentle patterns on the face of the leaves. Buds and leaves attached to the stem open slightly. The tip of the leaves is slightly curved but not broken. This is good quality white tea. Tea leaves that are fully open, folded or bent means lower quality.
  4. Purity: good white tea will not have seeds, old stem, old leaves or winter leaves.
  5. Aroma: a brisk, pure and rich fuzz aroma means better quality. Thin, qing chou (vegetal green aroma, 青臭), not brisk, oxidation flavour is lower quality.
  6. Taste: a xian (umami), brisk, rich, sweet is good quality, while a rough, thin taste is lower quality.
  7. Liquor: apricot yellow, apricot green, clear and bright is good quality, red, dull is lower quality.
  8. Brewed leaves: uniform, thick, soft leaves, rich in fuzz, with strong buds is good quality. Stiff, broken, mixed, red, brown, and yellow is lower quality.

Bai Hao Yin Zhen

Bai Hao Yin Zhen, also known as Bai Hao or Yin Zhen, is called the king of tea or the beauty of tea.

The Treasure of White Tea

Bai Hao Yin Zhen is a rare tea, a historical tea. In the past, it can only be made with the new tea buds in the spring, therefore the quantity is extremely low, making it utterly precious.

There are two types of Bai Hao Yin Zhen: Bei Lu Yin Zhen and Nan Lu Yin Zhen (北路银针,南路银针) based on different origin and cultivars. Bei Lu Yin Zhen is from Fuding in Fujian Province, made with Da Bai Cha cultivar. Nan Lu Yin Zhen is from Zhenghe in Fujian Province, made with Zhenghe Da Bai Cha. It’s less lustrous than Bei Lu Yin Zhen.


Look of dry leaves: strong and sturdy buds, covered with tea fuzz, straight like needles, white like silver.


Apricot yellow, rich and thick with a strong return sweet.

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