White Tea first appeared in the Northern Song Dynasty (960 – 1127). It was during this period that the first paper money and gunpowder were used and a standing navy and the location of true north on a compass were first established. White Tea was the choice of the royal court and was given as tribute to the emperor. White tea leaves and buds were ground into a silvery powder, which was then whisked in bowls during the Song Tea Ceremony. This was the inspiration for the famous Japanese Tea Ceremony.
The first mention of White Tea appeared in “Treatise on Tea”, written by the Emperor Huizong (1107-1110). A tea connoisseur, White Tea was his favourite and his book included highly detailed descriptions and rules for the making and judging of tea.
In 1769, the first Silver Needle Pekoe Tea was developed and in 1857, tea plants were found in Fuding County in Fujian which yielded a superior White Tea. In 1885, Silver Needle Tea was developed and then White Peony Tea in 1922. In 1968 the first exports of White Tea were made possible by new techniques of growing and processing.
White tea has come a long way in its long history. It was largely unknown outside China and the Orient until recently. Now, with a renewed interest in fine tea and remarkable discoveries about its health benefits, white tea is being discovered and enjoyed around the world.