Is White tea color white?

White tea is kind of wild western to most people, it has very special charming characters that waiting for discovery. This is the first part of Learn White Tea The Hard Way.

The first thing you learn White tea is about the definition, as White tea is kind of little brother in the market, not so many products, not so much information available. There is a national standard of White tea in China numbered GB/T 22291-2017, many questions can be answered there.

GB/T 22291-2017

The interesting part actually is about the drafting units of this standard, it reveals how and where this paper comes except the what. There are ten units:

  1. Hangzhou Tea Research Institute
  2. Fujian Yu Rong Xiang Tea Co., Ltd.
  3. Fuding Quality Measurement and Testing Institute
  4. Fujian PINPINTEA Co., Ltd.
  5. Fujian Tianhu Tea Co., Ltd.
  6. Zhenghe Bai Mu Dan Tea Co., Ltd.
  7. Zhenghe Dao Xiang Tea Co., Ltd.
  8. Fujian Agriculture And Forestry University
  9. National Center for Tea Quality Inspection and Testing
  10. China Tea Marketing Association

Above ten units can be classified into three groups:

  • University like number 8
  • Private tea companies like number 2, 4-7
  • National institutions like number 1, 3, 9 and 10

All private tea companies comes from Fujian province, even the national institutions number 4 and the university, it mostly defines the standard, Fujian is the center of White tea, or specifically Fuding city is the heart of China White tea.

White tea definition

In the act GB/T 22291-2017, there is a clear word about what’s White tea.

White tea is made with the buds, leaves or young stems of Camellia Sinensis and go through Withering, Drying and Refining.

The most important part of this craft is Withering or long time withering, here we do not use the word Fermenting though it’s slightly fermented. Fermenting in Black tea needs high temperature along with high humidity, so it can violently turn into red color in 3-5 hours. Contrarily White tea takes over 48-72 hours , it’s a much longer shot, that’s where the descriptive word delicate comes.


There are four types of White tea:

  • Silver Needle – Bai Hao Yin Zhen 白毫银针
  • White Peony – Bai Mu Dan 白牡丹
  • Gong Brow – Gong Mei 贡眉
  • Shou Brow – Shou Mei 寿眉

The words used for color description including Silver, Gray, White and Green, even Black is used for Shou Brow, but White is the most frequently used word. So if you want, you can arbitrarily say White tea is White.


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