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White Tea Renowned for their delicate aroma and their refreshing properties, white teas are a specialty of Fujian Province, which is divided into three main regions: Fuding, Zhenghe and Jianyang. Now, however; several estates in Darjeeling are producing white teas, and this trend seems to be spreading to other countries. Traditionally produced from precious harvests that last only a very short time (about two weeks) in the spring, white teas were once reserved exclusively for emperors and other high-ranking officials. These teas are the most minimally processed of all. White teas are usually divided into two types: those made only from downy buds (such as Yin Zhen and silver needles) and those made from a mixture of buds and leaves (such as Bai Mu Dan and Shou Mei).They are processed in two main stages, withering and sorting. WITHERING During the withering stage the leaves are simply spread out over bamboo racks. Depending on outside conditions, the leaves will be left to air-dry on the racks for 12 to 24 hours. To speed up the drying process, fans of different intensities are sometimes used to increase air circulation. In larger-scale production settings, a leaf-drying machine is used for the withering stage. SORTING This next stage consists of picking out broken leaves and other undesirable residue so only the whole buds and leaves are preserved. Sorting is often carried out using sieves of varying sizes, and branches are removed by hand Sorting can also be done mechanically. FIRING Traditionally, leaves for white teas are not fired. However, certain lower-quality teas of the Mu Dan variety are subjected to oxidation or high-temperature drying, which changes their taste and appearance. White tea was originally named after the tiny white or silver hairs that cover the bud as it develops at the tip of each tea shoot. Originally only made in China from two varieties of the tea plant (Shui Hsien or Water Sprite, and Da Bai or Big White), white teas are now being produced in other parts of the world using other varietals. And, although some white teas are made from only the new leaf bud (gathered before it starts to unfurl), other white teas are made from the new bud and one or two young open leaves or just from the open leaves, so don't be surprised to find other white teas made in other countries that look quite different from Yin Zhen Silver Needles. With the bud-style white teas, the size of the buds can vary from sturdy buds that measure up to almost 2.5cm (lin) in length, to much smaller, thinner and more wiry buds. In the same way, the size of the open leaf variety depends on the bush varietal used. Once the new buds and baby leaves have been carefully gathered, they are dried in the sun or in a warm, drying room. When brewed they give a very pale, champagne-coloured liquor that has a very light, soft, sweet, velvety flavour. The antioxidant levels are said to be higher than in other types of tea. The white tea is a slightly-fermented tea. It derives its name from the white hairs on its surface. It is mainly produced in Fuding, Zhenghe, Songxi, and Jianyang of Fujian Province. The finished white tea has green leaves and red veins covered with white hairs. The brewed tea leaves are complete. They fully open up in the water and are covered with many hairs. The tea soup has a light color and a mellow aroma. Sometimes, the first brewing has no color. The white tea requires the simplest processing procedure and is often referred to as the tea made by lazy producers. It goes through only two procedures: withering and drying. Of them, withering is the key. It has strict three-white requirements on fresh leaves: the tender bud and two tender leaves should be covered with white hairs. Major white tea varieties include White-tipped Yinzhen, Baimudan (White Peony), and Gongmei. To drink white tea is to drink the essence of a leaf that never really knew the light of day, that was plucked before the bud could fully open. Named for the silver fuzz that turns pale on drying, white tea, by virtue of its youth, is spared the fires that older leaves are subjected to, and is but briefly steamed. The result is an ethereal brew with a tantalizing silky texture, and none of the aftertaste present in green tea. Also, white tea's health quotient is fast gaining a reputation for being greater than green tea's. Alas, the inevitable catch: white tea is quite often significantly more expensive than others. The special quality and flavor of these white tea is brought from its special growth place, the breed and processing method which makes it natural and elegant outside and tastes sweet and refreshing. Tea Set Suitable for Brewing the White Tea The natural and unsophisticated ceramic tea set, stone tea set, and wooden tea set are suitable for brewing the white tea. The luxurious utensils should be avoided. In addition, the white-tipped silver tip tea can be brewed with glass utensils for shape appreciation. The best is the tube-shaped transparent glass without any pattern on it. Such glass guarantees a clear view of the tea's shape, color, and endless change from different angles. However, glass tea set will compromise tea taste to certain extent.