* Prices may differ from that shown
White tea is one of those subtle tastes that you either adore or despise, subtle but steamy, comforting and cosy. I must say that I enjoy trying different flavours of tea and have had particular success with the different teas of the Twinings range which contain some thoroughly different versions of some very traditional teas. Twinings are notorious for being the upmarket brand that can boast being by appointment to the Queen herself, a tremendous accolade for the London based company.
The origins of white tea are certainly elaborate and grand, at one point the only person who was allowed to drink white tea was the Emperor of China, I knew I had to have something in common with the former Emperor of China. I love the story of the origins of white tea which states that about 5,000 years ago there was a Chinese Emperor called Shen Nung who happened to be moving around his land in the countryside when he required a drink, but with the hygiene standards of the time not being up to today's modern standards, he ordered for some of the previously undrinkable water to be boiled. When the water had been boiled a tea leaf was blown into his hot water, the Emperor was mystified by this and let it stay in the water, as result what we now know to be modern day tea was evolved. Tea became a massively important commodity in both China and Japan following the events with Emperor Shen Nung. To demonstrate the obsession of the time with tea, the Emperor Hui Zong became so engrossed with his love and life's desire to find the ultimate tea that his empire was gradually lost. The origins of white tea undoubtedly lie within Asia until fairly recently but it is now used around the world.
There are several varieties of white tea that are of different quality levels. The four main varieties are silver needle, white peony, long life eyebrow and tribute eyebrow. The different forms of white tea are all produced in different ways so this can therefore mean that it is occasionally possible to experience slight taste differences. I have had no problems with taste differences regarding the Twinings version of this tea. The envelope that contains the tea bag itself states that it is 'made from the unopened bud and young leaves of the Camellia sinensis from the Fujian province of China', I have no reason to doubt this information but I do think that it would be a good idea for Twinings to publish which variety of white tea it is. The fact that the tea comes from the Camellia sinensis species of plant perhaps makes the origin of it seem more elaborate than it is, the plant is a very common variety in the tea producing world and is used for everything from white tea through to both green tea and also black tea. The tea is typically grown in the hotter and more humid climates of the world and the general consensus is that it should be grown at a high altitude for a better flavour. The result of the growing conditions required mean that it is mass produced in India and China predominantly, the Twinings pure white tea comes from China.
Pure white tea is supposed to have many health benefits although Twinings do not market the tea based on any of the somewhat unsupported claims. The elaborate claims in terms of health benefits include cancer prevention, an ability to lower high blood pressure, lower cholesterol, heart protection, stronger bones and maintain healthy teeth, gums and skin. If all of the apparent health benefits are actually true it begs the question of why the NHS doesn't pack in research and instead invest in buying the entire worlds supply of white tea. As you may well have guessed it's not hard to see that I am sceptical.
With regard to the packaging, it is done with the typical chic elegance that is expected of the quality Twinings brand. The brand name itself is clearly visible in large font just above the middle of the packet that contains each individual tea bag. The Twinings logo is in black text with a gold stripe background the makes it stand out. Under the company logo it clearly states that the tea is a 'white tea' with 'pure' written underneath, this clearly distinguishes the product from the similar Twinings product that is also white tea but with a hint of pomegranate. The packet is not elaborate but clearly makes it's point, the picture is of a green leaf on a short stem which in my opinion is effective but is not trying too hard to get noticed. The pack that I bought contained 20 tea bags, each one presented in it's own little packet. The box itself is made from cardboard and survived transportation very well without any corners having been squashed. In my opinion Twinings have tried to put the minimum number of teabags that they possibly can in the box, for such a quality brand I would have expected perhaps 25 or even 30 in the box.
Some speciality teas have a reputation for not being the best in terms of how they look, the strong ingredients can sometimes mean that the look repulsive but taste great. The white tea does not look all that different to ant regular cup of tea, the only noticeable difference is that it is slightly lighter in colour than many regular cups of tea. The lighter look of the tea that I have commented on is almost certainly down to the fact that I did not drink it with any milk in, as Twinings strongly recommend.
The taste of the tea itself is subtle and delicate and it is certainly important to note that that this never will be a replacement for coffee and this is proven by the fact that one of the selling points that Twinings use, is that it actually contains much lower levels of caffeine than many of the other teas on the market today. A very useful tip that I have found on the Twinings website is that the water should be allowed to boil in the kettle but the left for between 5 and 6 minutes to allow the temperature to cool to about 75 degrees and then poured into the mugs with the teabags in, I agree with the fact that this makes for a more flavoursome cup of tea with a stronger scent. The fragrance of the tea can be made stronger but it is still not powerful and it is not going to keep you awake well into the night. I do like the taste as it is subtle and when it is piping hot and it will tingle on the tongue. While Twinings seem to insist that the tea is best if it is enjoyed naturally, which I do not believe is a bad conclusion, I would also suggest that it may benefit from the addition of something slightly more bitter, possible serving it with a lemon slice or a similar ingredient to give it a bit of kick.
For a reason unbeknown to me this tea is not readily available in the supermarkets as many others in the Twinings range are. The best source to buy it from is Twinings very own website on which a box that contains twenty tea bags will cost £2.05, this works out at a cost of 10.25 pence per cup of tea which is towards the high end of the market. As I have already said I think that it would be possible to put about five extra bags in each box very easily and this would mean a better tea economy rate of about 8p per cup of tea, this would be easy for Twinings to do and could certainly increase my level of customer satisfaction.
All in all I would say that this tea is a great starting point for people who are perhaps not all that keen on different forms of tea and may want an east one to begin with, on the other hand I cannot fault the taste because it does everything that it says on the can. Twinings are ultimately correct when the say that it can be described as both 'subtle' and 'delicate'. The packaging for the tea is strong are survives transportation well, the royal crest gives it that mark of quality that makes the brand stand out as above some the other common rivals. With regard to cost it is hard to fault a product that costs only a little over £2.00 for 20 teabags but I think that it is fair and honest to say that they could have put more in the box given it's size.
I managed to bag myself another give-away alternative to black tea from a colleague at work in the form of a cup of Twinings White Tea Pure teabag. After trying this I hastily went to Tesco in my lunch hour and bought myself a box I like it that much!
Twinings White Tea comes in a very ordinary and plain looking cardboard box, being predominately white in colour (who thought of that one???) with the Twinings branding in bold gold on the top of the box. On this plain white background is a simple and elegant green white tea leaf and bud picture. The box is the same size as the regular Twinings speciality teabags and sits snugly on your desk. It contains twenty bags of white tea, which are foil sealed for freshness.
The same method of brewing is used on most of Twinings speciality teas. You pour just off the boil water into your cup/mug of choice and add the teabag. It recommends brewing for a few minutes so that the bag can infuse with the water and then discarding the teabag. Personally I like to really get the most out of my teabag and leave it in for good measure and the optimum flavour until I have finished my drink.
For all those Green Tea haters here is a (still very much healthy) alternative. This White Tea has a very, very mild flavouring to it. It is not bitter at all, just very smooth and refreshing tasting that glides down your throat. The instructions say this is best enjoyed without milk, which I follow, however I find it almost tastes as if it has milk in it, similar to a cup of your regular tea with milk though not quite as strong tasting. For me this really hits the spot and I would choose this over my Green Tea simply because it is more pleasurable to drink and not quite as strong or bitter.
The Good News
The White Tea leaves and buds have some health benefits for you; it is grown and harvested predominantly in China which is where a large number of herbal teas originate. It is from the same plant as that used for green tea (Camellia sinensis), but the younger buds are used.
"The Emperor's favourite, this light, sweet and delicate tea is made from young leaves and unopened buds for that extra fresh flavour" Twinings say.
Some links to preventing certain types of cancer have been identified in White Tea, along with antioxidants known to improve cardiovascular function and boost the immune system. How true and to what degree these links are I do not know, but it makes me feel slightly healthier drinking it.
If you want a strong tea taste for your money do not go for this flavour, but if you want a delicate and smooth hot drink then this is certainly worth a try and I highly recommend it. You can also get this white tea from Twinings infused with Acerola Cherry and a hint of Pomegranate, which I am very keen to try out once these have all been used up.
Twinings speciality teas are commonly on offer in the supermarkets and at full price retail for about £1.79 for twenty teabags, for which I think these are well worth.
Having been a convert to Green Tea for some years now, I started drinking White Tea over the past 12 months. Why? Well a University report last year showed that it had high anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-collagenase, and anti-elastase properties which could potentially reduce the risks of developing rheumatoid arthritis, some cancers, heart disease & slow the enzymatic break down of elastin and collagen (ie wrinkles or sagging) which accompany aging.
As white tea is made out of young leaves and buds, it has more of amino acid theanine (which has relaxing and mood enhancing properties) than green and black teas which are made from older leaves. Another University study showed that White Tea has more anti-viral and anti-bacterial qualities than Green Tea.
Twinings White Tea is made from the unopened bud and young leave of the Camellia Sinensis from the Fujian province of China. Green, Black and Oolong also come from the same plant but differ in that Black and Oolong are oxidised before curing. Accordingly, White and Green Teas are less processed.
Now I know what you're thinking - all that science and health talk is all well and good, but how does it taste?!?
White Tea generally has a mild and light, delicate taste. Similar to Green, it is best enjoyed without milk and it is advised not to use boiling water as it can burn the leaves. I tend to boil the kettle and just leave it to stand for 30 seconds. The bag should be left to infuse for around a minute beofre removing it for the recommended best taste. Some of my friends do like to leave the bag in for more flavour.
I find this a really light and refreshing tea and drink it more than "normal" tea nowadays. 20 bags cost in general around £1.79 from Tesco and there is also a White Tea and Pomegranate option for those of you who like a fruity twist.
The only real criticism I have of this product s that each of the bags is individually wrapped which seems a bit of a waste and not environmentally friendly. Clipper also offer a similar White Tea product at a slightly lower price.
Brand: Flavia / / Type: Tea Bags