The first harvest of the year is always the same — early spring green tea and white tea. We already know that all teas come from the same plant, camellia sinensis. Moreover, early spring green tea, as well as white tea, are often times harvested on the exact same day. Many experienced tea drinkers struggle to find the difference between the two teas. So what actually makes them different? Let's examine white tea vs green tea up close!
What Is White Tea?
White tea undergoes the least processing of all the five different tea types. Farmers make it from the most tender and fresh buds and leaves. Furthermore, they harvest it only during the spring season. White tea undergoes production methods that produce delicate flavors intertwined with a smooth mouthfeel. We also notice a subtly fruity and sweet finish.
White teas usually have far less bitterness than other types of tea thus are more forgiving of high water temperature and longer infusion times than green teas.
What Is Green Tea?
Most people know of Green teas thanks to their fresh flavor and health benefits. Farmers predominantly produce them during the spring harvest season, which runs from March through May.
To preserve the fresh qualities of the leaf, the tea farmers utilize different methods to fire the freshly harvested green tea leaves. The result is a bright, grassy, and vegetal taste.
The first notable difference between white tea vs green tea is the shape of the tea leaves. White tea leaves are almost always larger than green tea ones. Furthermore, certain white teas, especially Silver Needle White Tea, have the iconic fuzz covering the leaves.
Silver Needle White Tea and its favorited fuzz
What About The Flavor And Aroma?
An early spring green tea tends to preserve the fresh, natural qualities of the tea leaves. We can note aromas of grasses and vegetation.
White tea aromas, on the other hand, are more subtle, yet more complicated. An experienced tea drinker can note anything between flower fields, medicinal herbs, hay, and fruits. The scents are layered one on top of another like a quality perfume. Although it may be more challenging to discern the different aromas for a first-time drinker, gradually getting used to discover the complexities of white tea can be quite intriguing.
Drinking green tea can most certainly be refreshing and uplifting. The tea is smooth and thin. White tea, however, is much thicker, which can be immediately detected by the viscous consistency of the liquid. It is warming and heavy, and refreshing at the same time in its own right.
White Tea Vs. Green Tea Caffeine
There are a variety of things that will affect the caffeine content of a particular tea, so it is not always so straightforward. Depending on which part of the tea plant it uses, white tea can contain fewer milligrams of caffeine per cup than green tea.
Furthermore, teas that contain a higher content of tea buds will have more caffeine. The caffeine content will also depend on the steeping times and water to leaf ratio. To learn more, read our article on caffeine content in teas.
How To Make Green Tea Vs. White Tea
For the most part, green teas brew best at water temperatures around 175-185ºF (80-85ºC). With some Japanese green teas, like Gyokuro in particular, require a much lower temperature – 150ºF (65ºC). While the majority of white teas brew best at water temperatures of around 185ºF (85ºC).