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Recently, white tea has been gaining popularity. However not many people are aware that there are different way to enjoy white tea.

White is White Tea?

The name as white tea, is defined by the way tea is made, not by its appearance or colour.

White tea is not rolled during tea processing. In making white tea, the fresh tea leaves are slowly withered to reduce its water content and this triggers enzymatic oxidation (fermentation). Finally, when the water content falls below 20%, it is dried to complete the process. There is no heat treatment involved, like roasting or steaming as other category of teas. Because of no rolling and no heating process, the downy hair of tea leaf or tea bud remains intact. It appears white as the name of white tea.

Because of no heating in process, enzymes (oxidizing enzyme) are not inactivated but to remains as it is. You have the better understanding of white tea if you are aware that enzymes remain active.

1.White Tea undergoes further oxidation during brewing

White tea contains an oxidation enzyme called polyphenol oxidase (PPO). It mediates the oxidation of tea.
With adequate level of moisture and temperature enzyme will be acitived. The enzyme is a type of protein. Therefore it is inactivated with hot water at above 60 to 70°C.

It is often thought that the enzyme will be inactivated if it is brewed with boiling water. But when boiling water is added to white tea, the temperature inside the tea leaves or stem does not rise immediately. In fact, the temperature gradually rises, so the enzyme rapidly activates and it causes further oxidation (fermentation).
For this reason, white tea brewed with hot water changes to beige brown, and has a slightly fruity scent like Darjeeling black tea.

Brewed Tea leaf of white tea with boiling water

When brewing white tea, I rapidly heat up tea with boiling water so as to stop the enzyme as soon as possible. It allows us to enjoy more floral-fruity scent and keep the fresh taste of tea.
To be specific, the brewing is detailed as follow:

1. Preheat the tea ware with boiling hot water for 10-15 seconds.
2. Put the tea leaves into the teapot, pour boiling water into the tea pot, put on the lid and leave it for 10 seconds then pour off the hot water.
3. Pour boiling hot water again, and discard in 5-10 seconds again.
4. Finally, brew tea with the hot water for about 10 seconds.

When you brew white tea at lower temperature, the temperature rises slowly and the enzymatic oxidation proceeds rapidly, so the aroma changes drastically.

2.Bright green and refreshing scent when brewed with cold water

On the other hand, the enzymes stay non-activated if white tea is brewed in cold water. In this way, we can enjoy the original taste of white tea with cold water brewing.
When white tea is brewed with hot water, the brewed tea leaf turns yellowish beige colour, while the cold water brewed white tea remains fresh green colour.

White tea brewed with cold water has a completely different taste and aroma from white tea brewed with hot water. The cold brewed white tea has a refreshing scent like flowers and shiso leaves.

I put 5g of tea leaves in 1-2 litres of cold water and leave in the refrigerator for half a day to overnight. It is advisable to remove the brewed tea leaf when tea is ready.

The cold water brewed white tea leaf remains fresh green because of no enzymatic oxidation takes place.

3.The aged white tea develops sweet fruity flavour like grapes

White tea is also a tea that you can enjoy by aging it just like Pu-erh tea. It is said that white tea has the oldest history in tea world, and in the old days, unintentionally people were drinking aged white tea.

Since white tea is produced with very light fermentation and without heat, it is rich in polyphenols with a low degree of oxidation. The constituents of white tea are close to the properties of white wine and have a large growth margin for aging. Therefore, when tea is aged for a few years, it develops a sweet and rich aroma that new tea does not have. To understand the wonderful effect of aging white tea, firstly drink the freshly-made white tea, and keep one unopened pack for a few years. You will be surprised that white tea ages faster and more obviously than Pu-erh teas.
When white tea is aged for a few years, it develops sweet fruity scent like grapes, tropical fruits, and nectars, and also it gives a smooth and mellow drinking sensation.

I prefer more delicate and refined aging, so I keep tea oxygen-free. However, aerobic aging (with oxygen/air) is a more common practice in tea world, which means tea is exposed to air for many years.
The aging speed under aerobic environment is overwhelmingly faster, but it forms a sour taste, multiple noise in flavour and astringency at the same time. On the other hand, oxygen-free aging has a slower aging rate, but it composes fresher, more refined and very sweet-fruity flavour. For those who wish to produce very refine sweet flavour, it is recommended that HOJO white tea be kept unopened. If you want faster aging and does not mind some noises in taste and flavour, please open the bag and seal it back after tea is being aged.

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