White tea is the least caffeinated and the least processed among the five different teas and is made of the most tender and fresh buds and leaves. It is harvested only during the spring season. The production utilizes the gentle process of withering, curing, and drying which give white teas delicate flavors, a smooth mouthfeel, as well as a subtly fruity or sweet finish. White teas tend to have less bitterness than other teas and can be more forgiving of water temperature and infusion times than green teas.
White teas are usually made from medium-leaf tea bush varieties that produce white-silvery leaves and sprouts. They are delicately hand-harvested only once a year for a few weeks in early spring when the weather is consistently cool and dry. The withering process of white tea raises an abundance of silvery-white hairs on the dried tea leaves and buds. Authentic white teas such as White Peony are multi-colored like autumn leaves and are covered with a silvery-white "down" that resembles the skin of a ripened peach. Silver Needle, the premier style of white tea, consists of only silvery-white sprouts shaped like needles without attached leaves.