Word Association: Low caffeine, light, delicate, sweet
All tea (except herbal) is derived from a single plant, the Camellia sinensis. White tea gets its name from the delicate silver-white hairs that grow on the unopened leaf buds that are harvested early. White teas are lightly processed using slight oxidation to retain a delicate flavor. The lightness and delicacy of white tea is due to the leaves being harvested when they are young buds, only days before becoming a full leaf. Once air dried, the tea buds turn from light green to iridescent silver as the chlorophyll is released.
Because the buds are harvested early the tea buds of white tea are typically sweeter due to a higher glucose content. A natural defense mechanism of the young tea bud is to contain higher levels of caffeine and polyphenols which deter insects and act as natural sun block. The lower brewing temperature and shorter brew time means that white teas have much less caffeine after brewing while still having more caffeine within the leaf.
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