White tea originated in northern Fujian Province, China, and is the least processed of all tea types. It's generally only air-dried, which results in slight oxidization. Careful handling of the leaves is important so as to not bruise them. Harvest begins in early spring: The highest quality types are picked before the leaf buds have opened, and consist only of these tips, which are covered in silky white hairs. Other styles are plucked after the plants regenerate and are made up of unopened buds as well as the small new leaves.
White teas are distinct from green teas because they are not heated after picking. The flavor is savory and sweet—these are great teas to accompany meals. Steep with good tasting water at well below boiling temperature.