white tea: 2 posts

Tea Primer Part 2 : Green, White and Herbal Teas

In Part 1 of Tea Primer, I discussed black and oolong teas, which are both well known for their typically robust, rich flavors. In comparison, green and white teas, the topic of today’s post, shed all suggestions of darkness, showcasing lightness and freshness. The reason for this marked difference is that black and oolong tea leaves are given a chance to oxidize (basically, to wilt and turn brown) during processing, whereas green and white teas are not. As a result, while black and oolong teas are the equivalent to earthy vetiver and patchouli in perfumery, green and white teas call to mind the vibrancy of violet leaf and citrus. The difference is very marked, which is part of the reason why it never ceases to amaze me that so many diverse teas can come from the same Camellia sinensis plant.

Part 1 : Black and Oolong Teas

Part 3 : Tea Brewing Basics

Part 4 : How to Brew a Perfect Cup of Tea

Part 5 : A Guide to Buying Quality Tea

Green Tea

Though green teas have gained popularity in the West only in recent decades, both the Chinese and Japanese have been producing these teas for thousands of years. With such a long history, today’s methods for producing green tea are, understandably, highly variable, differing from region to region. It is most common for the freshly picked tea leaves to be quickly steamed (so as to allow no time to wither or oxidize) and then rolled or pressed in a hot pan before being dried.  Because the leaves are not given any time to wilt or oxidize before steaming, green tea leaves retain their green color, as well as many of their antioxidants.

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White Teas : Perfume in Your Cup

Please give a warm welcome to Andy Gerber, who will be joining Bois de Jasmin’s team. Andy is a student with a love of reading, writing, cooking, collecting and drinking tea, and growing plants of all kinds. At a young age, he has developed a natural affinity to everything botanical, and his fascination with scents has never waned since. As Andy says, “I will always remember the day when I fell in love with the amazing world of fragrance, which happened, coincidentally, in a greenhouse. As I stood, sniffing, among a collection of scented herbs, violets, and roses, I felt an unexpected wave of euphoria–I came to a sudden realization of how moving and joyful fragrance is.” He will be sharing his knowledge of teas, fragrant beauty care, and aromatic plants with us.

If any edible could be deemed the closest link between food and fragrance, it would have to be tea. Teas display aromatic profiles that often rival perfumes in complexity, containing many of the same volatile compounds as a bottle of fragrance. Notes of honeysuckle and peach might sound more fitting in a fragrance description, but in the world of tea, recognizable floral, woody, and fruity notes like these occur naturally and add interest and subtle depth. It comes as no surprise that perfumers like Jean-Claude Ellena of Hermès and Mathilde Laurent of Cartier are self-admitted tea enthusiasts, who reach for tea as both a satisfying beverage and as an artistic inspiration.

Of all teas, though, white teas are one of the most interesting options available on the market. White teas, grown primarily in China’s Fujian province, are made from the downy leaf buds of Camellia sinensis plants, the same plant used to make black, oolong, and green teas. The leaf buds emerge early in the harvesting season and must be plucked within only a few days before they unfurl into new leaves. After plucking, the buds are allowed to wither for a few days in the sun before they are dried. After drying, the processing is finished and the final product is a long, thin and silvery bud covered with fuzzy hairs. The handling of white tea is delicate and very minimal, in order to preserve the gentle flavors of the tea and keep the leaves intact. The plant material allowed in the production of white tea is thus chosen with the utmost care and attention to quality, as no broken, blemished, or mature leaves are used.

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