White Tea Once was Considered a Rare Chinese Tea Delicacy.
White tea used to be reserved only for the most elegant affairs in China. Though, in recent years, this white tea has rapidly gained popularity for its appealing flavor and reported health benefits.
White tea is much milder and sweeter than black tea and lacks the grassy flavor of many green teas. It brews to a pale color and has a delicate aroma.
The tea is thought to be one of the healthiest of all types and has the lowest caffeine content. All white teas come from the Camellia Sinensis plant.
What separates white teas from black and green Chinese tea blends is the time of harvest and the method of processing.
White tea is harvested just once each year -- in the spring before the buds have opened and while they retain a fine white hair. It is simply steamed and dried, often right in the fields, without going through any oxidation process.
This not only means that white tea has a much more delicate and sweet flavor than other teas, but also means that it retains more anti-oxidants in their natural state than green or black tea.
The antioxidants in white tea have been shown to fight cancer, heart disease and high cholesterol. White tea has also been shown to improve the immune system, too.
In particular, this delicate beverage seems to have the ability fight off bacteria and viruses. White tea is also high in fluoride, making it great for preventing tooth decay and inhibiting the formation of plaque.
The addition of licorice also increases the health benefits of the white tea. Licorice has long been renowned for its ability to calm the stomach and ease headaches.
For centuries Chinese herbalists have prescribed star anise to treat colic in babies, as well as headaches, abdominal pain and intestinal distress in adults.
Brewing White Licorice Tea
White licorice tea is brewed in the same manner as other white teas. It should be brewed with water just below the boiling point and steeped for about 5 minutes. Because it is very fluffy, it requires a bit more tea per cup to brew.
Begin by using about two teaspoons per cup and adjust to your taste. A good white licorice tea should provide a minimum of two infusions.
The addition of licorice flavor to white tea makes for a bolder and more exotic flavor than many other white teas. White licorice tea is also a bit sweeter than other white blends since it derives sweet flavor from both the tea and the star anise.
You can also use white licorice tea to make iced tea, which offers a bold and refreshing taste. To make iced tea, simply brew several servings of tea at once and allow the tea to cool before serving. Because white tea is delicate in flavor, pouring it over ice while it's still hot may dilute the flavor a bit too much.
To retain the flavor you must allow the tea to cool first. Once cooled, you can either refrigerate or use ice to bring it to the proper temperature.
Source: Excerpts from "What is White Licorice Tea?" by Chinese tea expert Jon Stout, chairman of Golden Moon Tea Company.