Like many other teas, white tea originated from the Fu Jian Province, south-east of China, more precisely from the Fu Ding region.
The tea plant
There is a tea plant unique to this area called ‘Fu Ding Da Bai Hao’ (Fu Ding big white down). The tea leaves are characterised by being strong, full and bold with needle shaped tips when young, and covered white fur.
White tea history
There have been debates for a longer period of white tea history, some insisting it is actually one of the earliest Chinese teas. The line of argument for this claim centres on the relatively simple drying process used in the white tea production which aligns with processes first used as tea first gained popularity as a beverage. ie people started preserving fresh tea leaves for later use by simple methods such as drying.
- This formed the basic process of white tea making.
- Subsequently, various additional steps, skills and tea making methods augmented to eventually cover all of today's 6 major tea categories and distinctions within (and many varieties within each tea family: eg more than 300 hundred green teas in green tea category alone!).
Pemium white tea production is still very much limited to certain pocket areas of the Fujian region of China. Due to the recent surge in white tea popularity, there are merchants use other tea plants than the Fu Ding Da Bai Hao and processing methods that are sub-optimal to mimic the authentic white tea. These white teas however do not posses all the properties of the authentic Fuding white tea.