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How To Identify Quality White Tea & What It Should Cost


In my last video entitled, "Why You Should Stop Buying Expensive Tea", I explained why it isn't necessary to pay an arm and a leg for tea in order to ensure quality. Towards the end of that video I alluded to the importance of recognizing quality tea, so that no matter who is selling it or how it is packaged, you can make sure you are getting an authentic tea experience worth every penny you spend.

In this post, I'm taking a step further and talking specifically about white tea, how to identify authenticity, quality, and cost. So tap 'play' if you're ready to have real tea experiences without getting ripped off.

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Loose-leaf white tea in a basket

$49.99! For eggs?

Why is it even important for you to identify quality white tea and to make sure you're paying a decent price for it? Well, allow me to illustrate with an example: When you go grocery shopping and you pick up your eggs you expect to see various prices for different types of eggs. The organic eggs may even cost a few dollars more than the non-organic eggs and you might even be willing to pay a little extra for organic eggs. But what if you noticed a dozen eggs priced at $49.99, wouldn't your eyebrows go up and wouldn't you begin to question why the eggs were so expensive?

The eggs would have to be special, really special, to warrant that sort of price, and since you know the average value of eggs and how ordinary they are, you most likely won't purchase them for $49.99. Tea is the same way, most tea is ordinary and therefore if you know what you're looking for, what quality white tea, for example, looks like, and if you know the average pricing for it then you're less likely to be tricked into overpaying.

White tea being poured from a white tea pot into a white and gray tea cup with tea plantation in background

CHARACTERISTICS OF WHITE TEA

There are several different types of white tea, however, they all share the following fundamental characteristics that classify them as such:

  • Little or No Oxidation* (causing low caffeine)

  • Least Processed (causing high theanine**)

  • Made using the 'baby parts' of the tea plant (buds, stems of buds, young leaves)

  • Bright Green to Army Green Hues (no brown/black hues)

*Oxidation is a chemical reaction that occurs when the tea leaf is crushed causing the liquids from the leaf itself to interact with the oxygen in the air turning the leaf brown or black in color. The more oxidized a tea is, the more caffeinated it is.

**Theanine is an amino acid unique to the tea plant (Camellia Sinensis). It is known to reduce stress and anxiety and to have a calming affect without drowsiness.

KNOW THY WHITE TEA

Currently, there are 8 different types of white tea. Below you will find an image of each tea along with specifications that will help you to familiarize yourself with the teas. I have also placed a reasonable price range for each of the white teas so that you never overpay again.

CHINESE WHITE TEAS:

A 100 dollar bill folded to resemble a tea bag

SILVER NEEDLE

Chinese Name: Bai Hao Yinzhen

Cost: 15-25 USD

- Considered gold standard of white teas

- Made using only the silver colored buds

PURCHASE: Silver Needle White Tea by BESTLEAFTEA

A 100 dollar bill folded to resemble a tea bag

WHITE PEONY

Chinese Name: Bai Mu Dan

Cost: 10-25 USD

- More affordable than Silver Needle white tea without sacrificing taste

- Made using a combination of young tea buds and leaves

PURCHASE: White Peony Tea by Teavivre

Tribute Eyebrow (Gong Mei)

TRIBUTE EYEBROW

Chinese Name: Gong Mei

Cost: 15-70 USD

- Hard to find outside of China

- Aged quality might make it more expensive

- Third highest grade of white tea

PURCHASE: Tribute Eyebrow Aged White Tea (2010) by GOARTEA

Long Life Eyebrow (Shou Mei)

LONG LIFE EYEBROW

Chinese Name: Shou Mei

Cost: 13-40 USD

- Aged quality might make it more expensive

- Smaller amount of buds are used

- Leaves are more irregular than Silver Needle and White Peony

- Derived from the cultivar, Cai Cha (small version of tea plant)

PURCHASE: Long Life Eyebrow Aged White Tea (2010) by GOARTEA

NON-CHINESE WHITE TEAS, CONSIDERED BY SOME AS NON-WHITE TEAS:

A 100 dollar bill folded to resemble a tea bag

CEYLON WHITE

Origin: Sri Lanka

Cost: 8-25 USD

- Made using the longest silver tea buds

- Comparable to Silver Needle

PURCHASE: Ceylon White Tea by Diyadolo Estate