When it comes to considering the best white tea to add to your collection you may want to consider a couple of important components for consideration.
First and foremost is the tea you are looking to purchase fresh? So few tea companies online have a seasonality focus and it might not be obvious from the appearance but it sure is in terms of aroma, body, and taste.
Seasonality of White Tea Harvests
Seasonality is defined as a sourcing model that coincides with the seasonal harvests at tea plantations at origin. Though tea has a shelf life of nearly two years the leaves have the most intact chemical compounds soon after the harvest ends. The seasonal reality is that creates the most nuances in the tea that you are about to steep. There is a huge difference between old stale tea and fresh tea leaves.
Depending on the white tea you are looking to consume there is different harvest periods:
Silver Needles: the best time to harvest Silver Needles is typically the last two weeks in March. Most people do not often realize that tea comes from an evergreen tree and that this tree will for survival go into dormancy during the winter period. When the tree(s) go into dormancy they begin to store nutrients to stay alive. Therefore after this winter thaw and the first buds start to come up - the new fresh buds will have these white downey hairs called trichomes. These are what give the tea the fresh silky mouthfeel and sweet taste.
White Peony: this tea goes after so many names - drum mountain white cloud, bai mu dan, and white peony to name a few. This is also a great spring harvest and typically consists of a bud and two leaves. Great harvests have an almost sweet corn flavor to them.
What is the best way to brew white tea?
When it comes to brewing your white tea the most important factor is the temperature of the water. White tea is generally best at about 180 degrees. The compounds inside the leaves are delicate and to best accentuate these nuances it is best to ease off on the water temp.
In terms of time White Tea is best served with a long steep time. Ideally one that will showcase the polyphenol content in the leaves.
If you are looking to cold brew white tea - we suggest a 24 hour steep time with filtered cold water. Do be mindful that the shelf life for cold brewing tea is about 3 days. The microbial content in the leaves are not eliminated because you are not using cold water.