This delicate tea is loved by many for its subtle flavour and health benefits not only today but dating back centuries. Whether you’re an avid tea drinker or just like to have a cup or two on occasion, you know white tea is always a good choice. But did you know that this type of tea has a long and rich history?
Let’s take a look at the origins of white tea.
Where did white tea originate?
White tea is believed to have originated in the Fujian province of China. This area is renowned for its high-quality teas, and white tea is no exception. The first recorded mention of white tea dates back to the 1700s when it was known as Dai Bai and Da Hao. White tea can only be called such if it came from Fujian. During this time, in the absence of modern machinery, processing took a lot longer and was more expensive than it is today, so the tea was mainly consumed by royalty.
White Tea was harvested differently too – only the youngest and most tender leaves were selected. Once picked, broken pieces were steeped in an earthen kettle over a slow fire. The final product was then poured into delicate porcelain cups. From start to finish, the entire process was quite lengthy and required great precision. Sometimes they would even whisk it in ceramic bowls like matcha during ceremonial preparations of white tea.
What does white tea mean in Chinese culture?
White tea is one of China’s treasures and is highly revered. In Chinese culture, white tea symbolizes purity, honesty, and respect. It’s also a sign of honor and wealth. For many centuries, white tea (in particular varieties such as White Peony (Pai Mu Tan) and Silver Needle) was given as a gift to nobles and dignitaries. It is also one of 6 major tea types enjoyed in China.
Known for its fine taste and beautiful appearance, white tea is made of only the freshest and youngest tea leaves. These are carefully hand-picked and then quickly withered to prevent oxidation. This type of tea contains less caffeine than other teas since it goes through minimal processing.
What does white tea symbolise?
In China’s history, white tea was served by virgins who wore white gloves to prevent their skin from coming into contact with the leaves. This is a sign of honour and respect and only the royals were privileged enough to enjoy the tea. It is said that courtiers paid tribute to the emperor by serving him tea.
White tea was sometimes even seen as pure enough to be used in religious ceremonies. In recent years, however, white tea has become more accessible to the general public. But it still retains its air of sophistication and refinement.
White tea has come a long way since its early beginnings and is now enjoyed by people all over the world. The next time you enjoy a cup of this delicious tea, remember its unique history and all that it symbolizes. From its extravagant origins to its present-day popularity, white tea is truly a special beverage.