White tea is a gem of China
White tea is a product of China, although there are now some areas outside of China attempting to mimic the production due to the surging prices and thus profits.
There are two traditional white tea production areas in China, the Fujian Province of south-east China and the Yunnan Province of south-west China. The white teas produced in these two areas are distinctively different. Fujian white tea is considered to be far superior to the Yunnan counterpart. This article is focusing on the differences of two main types of Fujian white teas, the Fuding white tea and the Zhenghe white tea.
Fuding and Zhenhe are the two main traditional regions in the Fujian Province where the white teas are produced. Following are the main differences of the white teas produced in these areas.
The geographic locations
Fuding is on the east cost of China, back to the mountains and face the sea. The altitude of the white tea plantations are about 600m - 1140m above the sea level.
Zhenghe's geographic location is further in land, also further north of Fuding. The altitude of the Zhenghe plantations are about 800m-1600m above sea level, with cooler temperature and longer sunshine on average.
The different tea plants
The Fuding white tea plants are mostly Hua-Cha #1 (also known as Fuding Big White Fur). The bud leaves (used to make the Silver Needle white tea) are typically shorter, flat and stronger, with thick and prominent white fur cover.
The Zhenghe white tea plants are mostly Hua-Cha #5 (also known as Zhenghe White Fur). The bud leaves are typically longer and thinner, with less prominent white fur cover. The tea leave are darker green in color.
The different processing techniques
White teas are the least processed Chinese teas. Their processing is simple but highly skillful including only two stages: withering (萎淍) and drying. A professional withering process will have direct impact on the quality of final products.
The final products
The above differences result in Fuding white tea with a brighter note, refreshing and sweet; while the Zhenghe wihite tea has a deeper tea color, thicker tea brew and mellower than the Fuding counterpart.
White tea is often thought as a 'beautiful girl' in the Chinese tea culture. While Fuding white tea is considered to be 'the girl known for her beauty (美女)', the Zhenghe white tea is 'the girl known for her talent (才女)'.