Best White Tea 2020 (Ultimate Guide)

best white tea

In the world of tea, white tea has always held a special place, mostly because it is such a unique brew that not so many people are actually familiar with. White tea is the complete opposite of other teas; it is, we would say, the luxury beverage available for everyone. The brew is exceptionally elegant, delicate and completely refined. The loose-leaf form of this tea is a story for itself; the wonderful leaves, or buds, are covered in white or silvery strings, which unfold beautifully during the infusion. White tea is simply a spectacle for every one of your senses; it tastes excellent, is visually stunning, and the aroma is otherworldly.

The reason why white tea is such an exceptional beverage lies in the fact that it is minimally processed and the focus is always on retaining the original leaf quality. The leaves of this plant require special attention and the process of drying and production is quite demanding. The best white tea is produced in China, or specific areas in Fujian and Yunnan Provinces. Moreover, the best white teas are also rich in proteins, amino acids, phenolic compounds, lipids, and vitamins. So, not only is it visually appealing and rich in flavor, but it is also incredibly good for your health.

7 Best White Tea 2020

7 Best White Tea 2020

1. Harney & Sons White Christmas  – best white tea blend for this holiday season

WHITE CHRISTMAS – best white tea blend for this holiday seasonBecause it is the holiday season, we’ve decided to start the list of best white teas with this wonderful white tea blend from Harney & Sons. For those who are not familiar with this tea company, we can only say that they provide some of the best teas in the world. The majority of their products originate in China and other Asian countries; the tea blends are put together by some of the best tea sommeliers out there. No wonder White Christmas is one of their bestsellers.

This particular blend consists of Mutan, Chinese white tea made from the Chinese Silver Needle. This tea is China’s most iconic white tea, and it usually has fruity, sun-fried notes and flavor. However, in this blend, it is paired with ingredients like almond, cardamom, and vanilla to create that wonderful holiday feeling. It is reminiscing of white Christmas and winter holidays from our childhood and is actually evoking wonderful memories. This blend is simply perfect for this season and we genuinely recommend it. For a tin of White Christmas tea, containing 1.4oz of the blend (in sachets) you will have to give out $ 10.00; what a bargain. However, the loose-leaf form will cost a bit more; for 1lb of the blend, you will pay $ 28.00.

2. The Republic of Tea – best affordable traditional white tea

Emperor's 100% White Tea Bags – best affordable traditional white teaWhen it comes to getting exceptional quality for a reasonable price, The Republic of Tea knows what is the real deal. This tea company provides outstanding tea, in both bagged and loose-leaf form. The same applies to their Emperor’s white tea. With the appropriate name, this brew will leave you in awe; just like it did leave the Chinese Emperors. It is exceptionally subtle, mellow, with hints of fruitiness and sweet notes. This authentic white tea is grown in the meadows and plains of the majestic Chinese mountains in the Fujian Province. The leaves and the buds are rather tender, formed from the very young buds that were hand-picked.

The Republic of Tea always makes sure their white tea is a fresh, seasonal harvest. However, small yields and high demand make this tea especially rare. Therefore, you should be rather swift in your order, as it runs out of stock quite quickly. However, this tea is simply worthy of the fuss; it is subtle, delicate, floral and absolutely sweet in the most beautiful way possible. Not to mention that this authentic tea is especially rich in antioxidants and polyphenols. It is simply not just a cup of tea, but also a cup of health, relaxation, and harmony. For 50 tea bags of this particular brew, you will give out around $ 16.25; but, for a pack of 250 tea bags, you will pay $ 68.00, which is a great deal.

3. Uncle Lee – best bagged white tea

Uncle Les's Tea – best bagged white teaWhen it comes to any tea, we will always recommend you buy it in the loose-leaf form. However, some bagged teas are as exceptional in quality as the loose-leaf ones are. One such is Uncle Lee’s premium, organic white tea. This brew contains the widely popular Bai Mu Dan organic white tea. Now, Bai Mu Dan comes in the form of buds and is usually the most expensive variety. It is very light in color, with a yellowish hue and an exceptionally delicate, yet sweet and floral aroma. Unlike other white teas on this list, Uncle Lee’s Bai Mu Dan is the lowest in caffeine, however, probably the richest in healthy properties, like tannin, catechin, and antioxidants.

Now, Uncle Lee’s Bai Mu Dan is obtained in China and India; however, it is mainly harvested in the Chinese Fujian Province. Nevertheless, it is high in quality, as the buds are hand-picked in the very early period of budding before the leaves have formed and unfolded. Uncle Lee’s white tea is usually recommended to consume for relaxing and calming purposes, as It has soothing and very healthy properties. You can buy Uncle Lee’s premium white tea usually in some local Asian stores, as well as order via online grocery shops. You will get 100 tea bags (which are also oxygen-induced to help release the flavor) for around $ 9.00, but the price varies from store to store. There are also packages containing 40or 80 tea bags, so make sure to look for those as well.

4. Teabox Darjeeling  – best affordable high-quality loose-leaf white tea

Teabox Darjeeling Special Spring White Tea – best affordable high-quality loose-leaf white teaOf course, China is not the main producer and exporter of high-quality white tea; India is also known for its high-quality tea coming from the region known as Darjeeling. Teabox has recognized the potential and incredible quality of this tea, which led to a decision to create this exceptional blend. The Darjeeling Spring white tea is a great way to start your white tea journey, as it is very delicate, light in flavor, color, and aroma and has a wonderful taste. The blend contains notes of raw guava, a citrusy aftertaste and a soothing note of jasmine.

The Darjeeling Spring white tea contains buds that came from the so-called first flush. This means that these are the youngest buds, which are also of top-notch quality, as they produce crisp and light taste. Teabox only provides loose-leaf teas, which is great as you’ll be able to see these wonderful buds unfold during the infusion. So, in case you’ve decided to go with Teabox, here’s what you need to know; 100g of this wonderful tea will cost you approximately $ 14.99, but you can also order a sample of 10g for only $ 3.00 (which is enough for 4 cups of tea). This makes the Teabox tea very affordable; not to mention that for this price you’ll be able to enjoy exceptional tea.

5. The Tao of Tea  – best affordable high-quality loose-leaf white tea

The Tao of Tea – best affordable high-quality loose-leaf white teaThe Tao of Tea is a tea company known to provide some of the best teas out there. Their company policy is based on the ‘quality first’ priority, so you know that with them you’ll be getting the best product. The same applies to their Imperial White tea, which a truly traditional white tea, preserved and harvested after traditional Chinese practices. It originates from the Ningde region in China, Fujian Province. The tea has undergone minimal processing; therefore, it has a delicate yet smoky and nutty flavor, taste and aroma. The Imperial white tea also comes in the loose-leaf form, without the buds. The leaves are also a bit bigger than usual, which surely looks wonderful during the infusion.

It is important to point out that this tea is not meant to be strong or to have an overpowering flavor. Everything seems to be subdued with this tea; however, the aftertaste and the overall aroma is still exceptional; it is very soft, subtle with hints of floral notes and a chestnut, smoky or nutty flavor. Now, when it comes to the purchase, for 43g, or 1.5oz you will have to pay $10.80, which is a price that varies from store to store. At some online stores, the price can start at $ 20.00 (the official store), so make sure to check several sources before buying.

6. Shou Mei – best light pure leaf white tea

Aged Fuding Shou Mei White Tea Dragon Balls – best light pure leaf white teaIf you’re looking for a more advanced white tea, look no further. Yunnan Sourcing tea shop provides the best Shou Mei white tea. Shou Mei is a type that is often compared to Oolong tea. It is grown and harvested in the Chinese Fujian Province and has undergone minimal processing. Shou Mei, unlike other white tea varieties, is usually aged for 2 years, just like this one has. It is formed into the so-called ‘dragon balls’, which usually unfold like a flower during the infusion. That is why it is recommended to brew Shao Mei in glass kettles.

This tea has a wonderful, incredibly rich flavor. It has a sweet taste, which resembles honey, and has a fruity aftertaste. The tea is also smooth, delicate and doesn’t become astringent even when exposed to higher temperatures or longer brewing time. Shou Mei is especially appreciated in the world of tea as its processing is quite demanding. In order to be formed into balls, it has to be compressed with cotton and sometimes saran wraps. However, Yunnan Sourcing tea shop uses only cotton, for the highest quality and best results. When it comes to purchasing, you can get 3 of the Shou Mei dragon balls for $6.50, which would count as one package. Sometimes Yunnan Sourcing provides discount codes, so you can save money, especially during the holiday season.

7. Tealyra  Silver Needle – best high-quality Silver Needle white tea

Tealyra - Premium White Silver Needle Tea – best high-quality Silver Needle white teaThe Tealyra white tea is particularly popular among the tea lovers of the world, especially when it comes to their Silver Needle loose-leaf tea. Silver Needle is a classic white tea, that usually has a sweet, fruity aroma and flavor. Its silvery buds are very special, and they sometimes even sparkle in the daylight. The tea, in general, is produced in the Fujian Province in China and counts for the traditional tea harvesting and processing. It is also made from early spring buds, which makes the tea subtle, delicate, elegant and completely refined.

The Tealyra Silver Needle could also be ascribed with a slightly smoky, woodsy aroma, which is light, floral and definitely less grassy than other, low-quality Silver Needle teas. So, if you’re looking for that classic white tea that is light, but also very flavorful, look no further. Now, it is important to notice that the demand for this tea is quite high, and it runs out of stock pretty quickly. So, if you want to order, make sure to do it swiftly. Moreover, for 110g of this tea, you will pay around $25.00; however, you can also order a smaller package of 55g, if you want to try it out.

How to Choose the Best White Tea?

white tea how to choose

Picking the best white tea isn’t an easy task considering how varied their flavors will be from one cultivar to the next. If you’re completely new to white tea, our recommendation is a simple Silver Needle. It will give you the purest white tea flavor and allow you to pull out subtle notes from the delicate balance.

If you’ve got something more specific in mind, you might want to branch out a bit.

I’m Looking for Something Like Green Tea

Many green tea drinkers migrate to becoming white tea drinkers. It’s a natural step! If you enjoy the grassy freshness of green tea, you should try:

Long Life Eyebrow, for its bold flavor.

Ceylon White Tea, for its floral, honey and cream notes that aren’t too dissimilar to a Kukicha green tea.

I Want Something Delicate

Tired of the bold, brash black tea? White tea is the complete opposite. If you’re craving something light and delicate enough for the summer months, you should try:

Chinese Silver Needle, as it’s the most delicate and pure white tea. If you want bright and delicate, you need to buy the highest grade.

Darjeeling White Tea for its supreme delicacy, mellow notes and natural sweetness. A great option if you have a large tea budget.

I Love Floral Teas

From sweet and fragrant jasmine to delicate rose, mellow marigold and chrysanthemum, if you love these floral flavors and fragrances in your teas, you should try:

White Peony, as it has more pronounced floral notes compared to Silver Needle yet is still very light.

Jasmine White Tea, as the fragrant jasmine blooms work particularly well with the delicacy without overpowering it.

I Have A Sweet Tooth

One of the most attractive qualities is the natural sweetness it has. You’ll rarely need to add any honey, sugar or sweetener to your white tea. The best way to drink it is straight! If you want something especially sweet, you should try:

Malawi White Tea for the mellow sweetness and floral notes. Choose the highest grade you can afford for a supreme flavor.

Tribute Eyebrow, despite being the lowest grade, has noticeable fruity notes that are often quite sweet and bold. A good option if you enjoy the fruity sweetness in your teas.

Best Tips for Buying White Tea Online

  • Don’t be put off by high prices. Good quality white tea, Silver Needle, is going to cost a lot more than a bog-standard black tea. Compare the price of the white tea to other teas on the seller’s website. It should be proportional and give you an idea of how much better the quality is to other teas.
  • But don’t throw your money away. Make sure that if a seller is pricing their white tea high, they have the evidence of quality to back it up. Whether it’s an impressive Trustpilot page or a detailed and evidence-backed story of the farmers who supply it.
  • Check where and how the tea is grown. A Silver Needle grown with herbicides at low altitudes in Yunnan might look visually identical to a Silver Needle grown and hand-picked in Fujian, but the quality is vastly different. Location matters!
  • Don’t bother with the 2 low grades. When you’re buying online, you’ve usually got import costs added to the price of the tea, plus the delivery to your home. It’s not cheap to bring rare tea around the world from China, so why bother with low grades when you’ll need to pay a fair amount anywhere? In our opinion, if you’re going to try a fine white tea you should go for the best of the best!

More Story Behind White Tea

white tea

White tea is the least processed type of tea. By that we mean, from the time the unopened shoots and buds are plucked from the tea plant to the time it’s packaged and ready to drink, very little time has passed.

While green tea and black tea go through stages of rolling, crushing, withering, oxidizing, etc. white tea is barely handled.

After the tea leaves and buds are plucked, they are quickly withered and dried on large mats. No crushing, rolling or excess heating necessary.

By doing this, the white tea leaves remain delicate, fresh and full of the natural antioxidants found in tea leaves.

History of White Tea

White tea was one of the last tea types to make it around the world, due to its delicate nature being difficult to transport.

It has been produced in China for centuries along with the other popular tea types. But white tea, almost like yellow tea, has a more significant meaning. It’s held with respect and awe, first being cultivated and harvested for great Chinese Emperors. At this time only the finest white buds and top leaves were harvested, but now you can find all kinds of tea grades made into white tea.

You don’t need to be a Chinese Emperor to get your hands on some white tea either!

Types of White Tea

types of white tea

Most white teas available to buy are exported from China, the biggest grower in the world. You might expect to find white tea grown all over the world, particularly in Japan where similarly fresh green tea is consumed widely, but you’ll struggle to find anything but a few specialty white teas outside of China.

Chinese tea growers are masters and know exactly how to handle the fragile buds and leaves to create a magnificent tea. Here are a few of the best (and our personal favorite) white teas from China and around the world.

Chinese White Tea

White tea is grown in various locations all over China, notably in the Fujian Province and occasionally in the Yunnan Province too. Chinese white teas are soft, delicate and can be very expensive. You can also find these white teas in various tea blends, such as Jasmine White Tea.

Silver Needle White Tea – This is the highest grade you can find from China, made with only the top buds of the tea plant. These buds are pure white or silver, without any chlorophyll to turn them green. Once brewed, Silver Needle tea is typically light, sweet and rich with woody and floral notes – this can vary a little depending on the tea plant cultivar and where it is grown.

White Peony – The second highest grade is equally as delicate, soft and delicious as Silver Needle, but this tea contains the first shoot off the tea plant as well as the bud. Both the shoot/unopened leaf and top bud are still white and young. White Peony tea is typically light and sweet but with a fuller body compared to Silver Needle. You might notice floral and nutty notes.

Tribute EyebrowHarvested later than the first 2 top grades, Tribute Eyebrow is bolder with a strong white tea flavor and floral/fruity notes. Although harvested later, the buds and top leaves are still silver-white rather than green.

Long Life Eyebrow – Although this is the lowest grade and often the grade used for tea bags and subpar blends, don’t turn your nose up! Long Life Eyebrow white tea is fresh, fragrant, sweet and bold. Unlike the other white teas, this grade brews up into a warm golden liquor rather than a very pale-yellow liquor.

White Teas from Around the World

Any tea plant can technically produce white tea, so long as you harvest the top buds and shoots before they turn green… yet few tea cultivars and growers have the flavor and skill needed to produce a fine white tea. Around the world, there are a few notable white teas you can try.

Ceylon – A rare white tea grown and hand plucked in Sri Lanka. This is expensive and hard to come by white tea that you should try if you have the chance. It’s typically delicate and floral with notes of honey and cream. It brews up into a pale yet bright yellow color.

Malawi  – Grown in Malawi, Africa, this white tea is commonly referred to as antlers, thanks to the long twiggy appearance of the white tea leaves. White Tea from Malawi is often graded in the same way as Chinese white tea so you might come across Malawi Silver Needle, for example. Typically, Malawi White Tea is smooth, soft, naturally sweet and slightly floral.

Darjeeling White Tea  – Finally, there’s India’s Darjeeling which is handpicked at high altitudes, making it another expensive and rare tea type. Even when produced as black tea, Darjeeling is typically light and floral. As a fresh, young white tea, Darjeeling is exceptionally light, mellow, sweet and has a delicate aroma.

What Does White Tea Taste Like?

white tea taste

White tea is soft, light and delicate. Depending on the grade, it can have a full-body or a delicate body – nonetheless, it will still be smooth and very light in comparison to black tea and even green tea. In fact, if your white tea tastes bitter and dark, you’ve probably over-brewed it or using water that’s too hot!

Typical notes you’ll find in white tea are cream, honey, floral notes (e.g. jasmine), nutty notes, and woody notes. You might also find a few fruity notes in some special blends.

Although these are all very similar tasting notes to many green teas, there’s nothing grassy about white tea. It’s smooth and soft and mellow. If you enjoy jasmine tea, light iced teas, gentle Chinese green teas, and other floral blends, you’ll love drinking white tea.

It’s the opposite of a dark Pu-erh tea.

To get the best taste out of your white tea, you should brew it a little differently to your ordinary cup of black tea.

How to Brew White Tea for The Best Flavor?

  1. You need to use water that’s between 75°C and 85°C. So, either set your kettle to heat fresh water to 80°C or boil your water and let it cool to 80°C. A kitchen thermometer is a handy tool! If you want to cool the boiled water quickly, try pouring it from one cup to another a few times, or leaving a spoon in the water to transmit the heat away quicker.
  2. Check the ratio of tea to water. If this isn’t written clearly on the packet or on the seller’s website, a good rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon (2g) of loose leaf tea per 8oz cup.
  3. Gently pour your hot water over the tea and leave it to infuse for around 5 minutes. If the tea is high quality (Silver Needle) or composed of a high volume of tea buds, you can add an extra minute or two to help the flavor infuse.

Some white teas can be brewed multiple times with the same leaves. You might also want to try a gongfu session with your white tea, to detect the intricate flavor notes as the tea steeps.

Whichever your preferred method, store your tea in a dark, airtight container to keep it fresh for longer!

More: A Complete List of Tea Flavors

Summary

White tea is a great way to spice your tea game up; if you’re tired of the standard teas, like black or green, white tea is there to help you out. It is also a great choice if you’re only starting to explore the world of tea. Since it is delicate and light, but very flavorful, it will surely open a new perspective on teas for you. Either way, regardless of which white tea you choose from the list, you won’t be wrong. Each brand provides high-quality blends, loose-leaf of bagged teas. We hope our little list has helped you make the right decision. What is left to do is to prepare the kettle, cups, put on a nice Christmas movie and enjoy your wonderful white tea.

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