Where does white tea come from?
I made my regular trip to Fujian Province in South Eastern China in April of 2006 to buy our white teas; Silver Needle, White Peony and the teas which would form the base of our Jasmine Pearls and Hand Tied, Flowering Teas.
In a remote town in Fujian Province, South East China, tea has been produced for more than one thousand years. The local scenery is beautiful, set around a lake with mountains steeply reaching up into the sky with cascading waterfalls and vibrant green tea fields. The airis so fresh and pure, that when you breath it in, it seems to make sense that white tea is so associated with health. The local food is typically fish and seafood and an unusual but delicious sweet white tarot.
The special variety of tea tree, called Fuding Big White (Fuding Da Bai), flourishes in the cool, misty mountains. This type of tea has particularly large white buds (hence the name) which are picked to make sweet and delicate Silver Needle. The bud and two lower leaves are picked to make White Peony. You can see the silvery bud in the photo opposite. I am picking this tea (only a little) to make White Peony.
We got up around 6am to drive up to the tea fields which lay at almost 1000 meters and were completely bathed in moisture from clouds. The tea looked so young and vibrant.
After picking, the tea was laid out on bamboo trays to dry. As it was raining, the tea had to be dried indoors. There is not much more to making white tea than this. Pick, wither and dry. So simple, and such a clean fresh taste that expresses the purity and clarity of the mountains in which it grows.