White tea is in some ways the closest thing to the natural leaf, being plucked, withered and dried with minimal oxidation. In some places it can be lightly oxidised to bring out a darker colour leaf, deeper golden brew and richer flavour. Sometimes it is dried simply in natural sunlight or else quickly fired to fix the tea as a stable finished product, removing moisture and stopping oxidation. White teas are naturally lowest in caffeine, highest in antioxidants and have a delicate flavour.
Water temperature: 70-85C is ideal for white tea. Cooler temperature makes it sweeter, hotter brings out more flavour.
Washing the tea: Optional Chinese practise to remove any dust and impurities and wake up the tea before brewing. To do this steep the leaves in boiling water for 10 secs, swirl and discard the water.
Western brewing: Use 1-2 heaped teaspoons (2.5-3g) per 250ml cup steeped for 2min30s. Use the same leaves for a second infusion using slightly hotter water infused for 3mins - 3min30s.
Gong-fu style: Use 6-7 grams (4+ teaspoons) per 100ml, repeatedly steeped for short periods, eg. 20secs for a first steep (after rinsing as above), then increased by 10-20secs each infusion until the flavour has gone. Adjust for personal preference, shorter if too strong, longer if too weak. Best done in a small brewing vessel, eg. under 200ml.
Cold infusion: Infuse 3-4g in 500ml cold water for 4 - 6 hours for refreshingly crisp iced tea, or overnight - experiment!