There is a saying about white tea: “One year – tea; three years – medicine; seven years –Treasure”.
What changes have taken place from “new” white tea to “aged” white tea? Let’s take a look at the two important factors regarding white tea: taste and aroma.
With the increase of storing years, the taste of the tea becomes more and more mellow (imagine the thickness of water verses syrup). At the same time, due to the evolvement of substances contained in the tea leaves through the aging process, the aroma of tea also become increasingly rich.
The drying process of white tea before the completion of the initial production imparts the smell of baking into the initial fragrance of white tea. Tea drinkers often refer to this as “smell of fire”.
About three or four months later, when the “fire” flavor is dispersed, the original flavor of tea will be emitted. Because white tea is so minimally processed, the original flavor of the tea leaves is retained; there is a freshness to it.
After being stored for about three years, the tea leaves enter into a kind of accelerated yet stable aroma change, gradually taking on a fragrance similar to the glutinous rice, lotus leaves or leaves of reed.
The changes that white tea undergoes with time will produce different chemical reactions in different environment, resulting in subtle differences in the taste and aroma. This makes white tea all the more fascinating as you never know when it will surprise you!
Of course, this requires something very important – white tea leaves have to be stored properly (such as clean, well-ventilated and dry environment avoiding exposure to light, etc.)
The tea needs a little oxygen and warmth to promote the transformation of the substances contained in it. If we can be patient and wait for the tea to go through its gradual transformation, the tea will reward us with its delicious flavor and aroma.
A new process step is now being used with white tea. It involves kneading the leaves during the original withering-drying process, to slightly ferment the white tea. With the addition of kneading, the taste and color of the brewed tea will be closer to that of the white tea that has been aged for about three years. This enables people to experience the charm of white tea sooner; however, the health benefits of aged tea enhanced with time can never be substituted.
Now you probably understand that, while the yearly production of white tea has a certain limitation, the preciousness of aged white tea is mostly due to its irreplaceable nature. So should we — follow the nature course of life and enjoy optimal health in body, mind and spirit.
［原创］Edited translation by zenteaone.org from posting of The Five Petals Tea Hut.