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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.
Gongfu (also know and Kung-Fu) is a type of Chinese Tea Ceremony. It uses a ritualized way of preparation and presentation of tea. Gongfu Tea Brewing became popular during China’s Ming Dynasty about the year 1500. This method is great for Pu’erh, Oolong and Black teas.
So let’s jump right in. At the basic level, there are 5 variables involved:
1. Quality Of The Tea
2. How Much Tea Do I Use?
3. Temperature Of The Water
4. Brewing Times
5. The Quality and Type Of Teapot
One of the more important things to consider is the temperature you steep/brew your tea. There are as many opinions as there are varieties of tea as to the “correct” brew temperature.
I have found that When you use water that is to hot for the type of tea that you are wanting to drink it causes the tea to become bitter. The hotter the water the more likely you are to “burn” the tea. The longer you steep the tea the more flavor that you are infusing into the water. Using a lower water temperature and a longer brewing time will make a better tasting tea.
So how do you know what temperature you should use and just how long do you steep the tea for? The best thing you can do is to find a good general starting point and adapt from there until you find the temperature and time that works for your personal taste.
Here is a helpful chart that I made up and use for brewing/steeping times and temperatures for each main category of tea type.
White tea. 175° 2-3 minutesIndian Green 175° 2-3 minutesJapanese Green Tea 160° 1-2 minChinese Green Tea. 175° 2-3 minOolongs 200° 4-5 minutesDarjeelings 195° 4-5 minutesBlack Teas. 200° 4-5 minutesHerbals. 200° 5 minutes
These are starting points that I use. I live in Colorado at a mile above sea level so my water boiling point is different than someone at sea level. Here our water boils at 206° so the typical 212° for black tea doesn’t work. I found that the first thing that really spoils the taste of a tea is the water temperature. To hot and it will “burn” the tea and not hot enough, the flavors aren’t pulled out of the leaf. Finding your teas perfect temperature will take some experimentation.
I found that 200° works well when a tea manufacture calls for water at full boil.
So now how to I go about brewing my tea?
I’ll be going through these different options and I will link up to them soon.
In English tea is a neat, short word, but through out it’s long history, it has been spelled many different ways. It has been called tea, tee, tcha, chai, and many other variants.
The symbol to the right is the Chinese character for tea and has been used since at least the third century. There are in fact, two families of words that are used around the world, which come from the way that the Chinese character for tea has been pronounced. In Mandarin it is pronounced cha, In the Amoy dialect, which is spoken in the Fujian province and Taiwan, it is pronounced tay.
The two words took different paths in spreading out to the rest of the world, based on trade routes.
The pictures below are lists of names, and the languages and the derivative of either Tay or Cha. Click on the pictures to view them full size.
Thank you to “The Tea Cyclopedia” for these images.