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Shou Mei

"Nickel" Shou Mei White Tea Mini-Cake, 2011 (5g each)

Taste: bold, sweet & fruity
Aroma: dry leaves & fruits
Mouthfeel: rounded & thick

Fuding Shou Mei White Tea Cake, 2014

Taste: sweet & fruity
Aroma: dry leaves & fruits
Mouthfeel: rounded & thick


About White Teas [+]

What Is White Tea?

White tea (bai cha) undergoes the most minimal processing of all the different tea types. To make this tea, farmers hand-pick only the most tender and fresh buds and leaves during the spring growing season. To produce it, they then must wither, cure, and dry the tea leaves. Only then will bai cha gain its delicate flavors and smooth mouthfeel with a sweet and subtly fruity finish. 

Farmers make most bai cha from medium-leaf tea bush varieties that produce silvery-white sprouts and leaves. The harvest season for most of these teas is usually once a year for a few weeks, in spring when the weather is consistently cool and dry. Through the withering process, the tea leaves and buds gain an abundance of silvery-white hairs. 

What makes this Asian tea unique is that farmers classify it based on the leaves:

History of Bai Cha

During the Tang Dynasty, white tea wasn't a commodity but rather a tribute. Only the royal court could afford to drink such a premium tea, and its clout stuck around for centuries to follow. 

Luckily, we can now find what was once considered a rare tea in many homes and cafes throughout the west. 

Let's Taste Tea: White Tea

While the tea liquor is generally very light in color, the taste of white tea can be very deep and complex. Many of these delicious Asian teas possess notes of fresh leaves yet without the sharp grassiness of green teas. They also have pleasant aromas of field flowers, hay, and a certain nuttiness in the taste. The liquor of aged white teas is darker, and the taste becomes sweeter and nuttier, with pronounced notes of dried fruits.  

Aging bai cha became popular in 2013 when Chinese tea merchants discovered that its age only emphasizes the sweet taste, adds layers to the flavor, and further kills any unwanted bitter and grassy notes. 

Asian tea enthusiasts speak so of aged bai cha:

one-year tea is still tea

three-year tea is medicine

seven-year tea is a treasure

Tea That Gets You High

In our personal experience, drinking particular types of bai cha has brought us to the state of being tea drunk or tea high. This is the feeling of being alert, creative, blissful, peaceful, and relaxed. 

Since tea farmers produce Silver Need Tea from the youngest buds with higher caffeine content, it is excellent for getting tea drunk. Aged tea like Fuding Shou Mei also promotes the tea high state. 

White Tea Vs Green Tea

Early spring green tea and white tea are harvested in the same time period. Of course, all teas come from the same plant, camellia sinensis. Moreover, farmers often harvest early spring white and green tea on the same day.

One visible difference between white tea vs green tea is the tea leaf shape. White tea leaves are usually larger than green tea leaves. Furthermore, certain white teas have the iconic fuzz covering the leaves. As the name suggests, most of them have light-colored tea leaves. On the other hand, green teas are a vivid emerald or yellowish-green hue. 

The taste of green tea is grassy, refreshing, and uplifting. The brew is light and smooth. Bai cha, on the other hand, is thicker and even viscous. Its effect is warming and heavy.

We can say that quality white teas have less bitterness than other tea types. Consequently, they are more forgiving of high water temperatures and longer infusion times compared to green teas.

Top Tea: The Most Popular Types Of Bai Cha

Silver Needle Tea

Silver Needle White Tea, called Bai Hao Yin Zhen in Chinese, is undoubtedly one of the most popular types of bai cha! Its taste is exquisite and alluring. It has the iconic fuzzy white tea tips, which are cute and soft like bunny ears. The brewed buds and tips result in a gentle and light brew. 

Tea Taste: Sweet taste with a slight soy milk flavor and a sweet finish.

White Peony Tea

Authentic White Peony tea leaves are multi-colored, similar to the beautiful autumn leaves. Furthermore, they are covered with a silvery-white "peach fuzz". In Chinese, we call this tea Bai Mudan. The brew of this craft tea is a light golden color, reminiscent of a good Silver Needle White Tea, but more rich and nutty in flavor. 

Tea Taste: Fresh, sharp, and slightly sweet with a pleasant soy milk finish and a fresh leaf aroma 

Shou Mei Tea

Shou Mei White Tea originated in the birthplace of white tea — Fujian Province. The name Shou Mei comes from the shape of the loose tea leaves, which resemble the long eyebrows of the god of longevity, Shouxing. Tea connoisseurs believe that in its basic form, tea is only the beginning of the journey. However, with age, it transforms into medicine. Indeed, aged white tea has been a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 

Aged bai cha often comes in the form of pressed tea cakes or bricks, similar to pu-erh tea. 

Tea Taste: Mellow, full-bodied, and sweet with a long-lasting finish and a pronounced sweet aroma. 

Does White Tea Have Caffeine?

Just like any other tea from the camellia sinensis tea plant, white tea has caffeine. However, the caffeine content of this tea will depend on many factors, not just the tea type alone. 

For example, Bai Hao Yin Zhen, which farmers make exclusively from the tea buds, has a higher caffeine content when compared to other teas. On the other hand, aged white teas tend to have a lower caffeine content as it goes down with age.

Is White Tea Acidic? 

Many people watching their health are concerned about the acidity of tea. Every type has a different tea pH level. For example, while the acidity level of hong cha (black tea) is around 5, that of bai cha will range from 7-10. Overall, loose leaf tea is not acidic and is more on the alkaline side. 

Does White Tea Go Bad?

Can tea go bad? Yes, nothing lasts forever! However, it won't spoil in the same way that food goes bad. Your tea won't grow mold or give you food poisoning. However, keeping tea leaves past their prime will result in a bland brew with a dull taste and zero tea benefits. 

The good news is, unlike green tea, we can store bai cha for multiple years and even age it for decades! 

How To Make Bai Cha 

Bai cha is usually less bitter than other tea types and can be more forgiving of infusion times and water temperatures compared to green teas.

We recommend brewing your bai cha according to the ways of gong fu cha. Since this tea usually has quite a delicate taste, we suggest sticking with porcelain or glass teaware that isn't porous and won't absorb the strong flavors of other teas. 

Most white teas taste best when we brew them at a water temperature of around 185ºF (85ºC).