A white tea’s taste can be quite versatile depending on the variety, the age, and the growing environment. Typically, a good white tea product have a complex mixture of various tastes, such as fresh, sweet, wild, medicine herbal, and jujube-like aged flavor.
Interestingly, many of these tastes cannot coexist. Some tastes belong to freshly harvested white tea products, and some can only be developed during the aging process. There are also some special tastes that are unique to tea plants growing in particular environment.
1. Fresh & Tender - Spring White Tea
Spring white tea harvest is usually between mid/late March to late April/early May.
Spring white tea has the most delicate leaves. In just a little over a month’s time, only the best and the softest leaves are chosen.
Spring white tea harvest has strict rules. In our white tea tea-making, we don’t harvest buds that are too thin, too purplish, or leaves damaged by wind, human activity, or bugs. When we do harvest, we only harvest in sunny days and never in a rainy day.
Fresh white tea leaves are strong and plump. In fact, these leaves are “buds” rather than fully grown leaves. Inside a bud, there are at least 6 to 7 layers of “bamboo shoot” like little leaves.
All small buds are covered by white tea’s signature “white hair”. Fine and dense white hairs protect vulnerable young “buds” from the occasional cold air in early spring.
White hairs have a high amino acid content. According to our research, white hairs contribute about 3%-5% of a white tea’s total amino acid content. This small percentage actually makes the fresh taste more distinct.
Blessed with this nutrient substance, freshness and tenderness become spring white tea’s signature tastes.
2. Sweet - High Mountain White Tea
Can a white tea taste sweet? The answer is Yes.
The sweetness comes from a nutrient substance called tea polysaccharide. Besides water, the tea polysaccharide content is actually the highest substance in white tea. Richer the nutrient contents, higher the tea polysaccharide content. As a result, a sweeter white tea.
Therefore, choosing a white tea with rich nutrient contents is the best guarantee of a sweet experience. In white tea tea-making, we say “high mountains, cloud and mist make a good tea”. Tea mountain fields that have a lower elevation have average temperature, sunshine and soil conditions. Because of higher temperature and stronger sunlight, tea plants on lower tea fields consume more energy and burn more of their nutrient reserve.
Because of the superior growing environment, tea leaves harvested from high mountain tea fields have a significantly higher nutrient content. This is why white tea products from high mountain tea fields can deliver a sweeter taste.
3. Taste of Wildness - From “Wild” Tea Plants
“Wild” tea plants aren’t actually wild. Most of them were once managed and maintained in a tea field. Over the course of history, for various reasons, some tea fields got deserted and tea plants were left in the wild. Therefore, they are called “wild” by today’s tea makers.
When tea plants are left unmanaged, only the fittest can survive. Tea plants are not just fighting each other for water and nutrients. Other trees, grasses, and ferns all become competitors. Those tea plants that managed to survive have to be stronger and more aggressive, thus “wilder”.
The most distinct taste of the wildness is “Hao Xiang/毫香”, or “the aroma of white hairs”. More specifically, it’s a smell of the spirit of being alive. When you open a bag of wild white tea, the first smell comes out as if all leaves are still in the tea mountain field.
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