But white tea is the most misunderstood of China’s teas. Very simply put, what makes authentic Fujian white tea ‘white tea’ is a combination of factors that cannot be duplicated in other regions of China or in any other tea producing country.
Authentic Fujian white tea is plucked from five specific tea bush cultivars that grow in three restricted locations in northern Fujian Province:
- Fuding county
- Shuijie county
- Zhenghe county
Two main different styles of white tea are made from these tea bushes:
- Yin Zhen, the original, traditional, plump, bud-only tea
- Bai Mudan, a new, modern-style white tea which consists of varying amounts of bud (from 10% to almost half) combined with leaf from the same tea bushes.
White tea is allowed to wither naturally in the air outside or inside the tea factory, and then it is bake-dried (not pan or basket-fired) to completely dry and stabilize the leaf. White tea is slightly oxidized (due to the natural withering phase) but it is not de-enzymed as green tea is. So in many ways white tea has more in common with black tea than it does with green tea.