Only the buds of the Camellia sinensis are picked to make white tea. Ideally, these should come from the Da Bai, a subspecies of the Camellia sinensis. This species originates from the Fujian region of China and is regarded as the highest quality white tea plant species.
The leaves of the Da Bai are characterized by the presence of small white hairs. For the very best white tea, only the bud may be picked, but sometimes the first and second leaf are also accepted. Picking is done in the spring because the hair and quality are better then.
Then it is time for the tea leaves / buds to wither. They are put outside for a short period of time, after which they are brought inside for the rest of the drying process. This process can take up to 30 hours and is essential for the flavor to develop. Once inside, the leaves only have 75% humidity. Then they are spread on bamboo and placed in racks. After this process, the humidity is only 60%. Then they move on to the next step, drying.
For the best quality, the tea leaves must remain whole. That is why the bamboo mats are placed in the drying room as a whole. In this dryer, the humidity of the leaves drops to 3%.
Finally, sorting takes place to extract the best leaves.
As you can read, making white tea is a very time consuming process. This means that the price of white tea is many times higher than that of other teas. If you then also want to make white tea caffeine-free, the tea becomes so expensive that most people can no longer afford it. For this reason, the Groene Hart has chosen not to offer white tea as caffeine-free tea.