While giving up all things white, such as potatoes, sugar and bread, may be en vogue these days as a way to achieve optimum health, don’t put white tea in that category. It’s just the opposite. White tea is red hot!

Chinese emperors have long known about white tea but it’s only been recently that white tea has caught on in the United States. The tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant and gets its name because the buds are still covered by fine white or silvery hair when they are picked and harvested before they are fully opened.  White tea may not be as well known as its green counterpart and is a bit more expensive but well worth it because it’s higher in antioxidants than green tea, less fermented, is less processed and, usually tastier because it’s lighter and sweeter. Another benefit is the lower amount of caffeine in white tea – just 15mg per serving compared to 40mg for black tea and 20mg for green.

A lot of the white teas are referred to as ayurvedic tea, or the Indian medicine type tea. Brewing time can vary, depending on the brand, but it’s usually recommend to steep slightly longer than other teas — up to five to eight minutes and sometimes 15 for specific brands. Feel free to mix white tea with peach, mint, which lifts your spirits or berries or even turn it into a cool glass of  iced tea to quench your thirst on a hot summer day.

White teas are produced mostly in China and Japan, but the Darjeeling region of India also produces some fine white teas. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different varieties as there are plenty, including white peony, golden moon, silver needle, tribute eyebrow, white cloud and noble, long life eyebrow. Catchy names fitting for such a tea that is growing in popularity.

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