White Tea or Sheng?


White and yellow teas are among the most subtle.

White Tea or Sheng?

Postby mcrdotcom » Mar 26th, '14, 17:34

Hi all!

This could be a silly question, but what the heck! Now I'm not totally new to tea, I've been floating around the tea world for a year now and I've learned so so much and tried some outstanding teas along the way. But something caught be off guard recently!

I've seen puerh tea vendors selling compressed white tea, and calling it white tea. I've seen people calling what I thought was white tea sheng. This confused me, simply because the white tea was being associated with puerh in terms of the section of the shop it was sold from. Today I received this months global tea hut which came with a sample of some very nice and fresh tea buds, which were labelled as sheng tea buds.

Now my knowledge is that sheng translates there or abouts to "raw", which I always assumed referred to tea processed in a certain way for ageing naturally. White tea of course is for drinking fresh (or so I thought)? These buds were very interesting, a bit unlike the buds usually seen in white tea, but very nice.

So yeah, sorry if this is long winded, but the question is, can white tea be called sheng, and if so, what exactly can we define sheng as, if not always related to puerh? :)

EDIT: I am aware of how white tea is processed, or not processed in many ways compared to other tea. But I guess my point is, puerh is processed to keep undenatured/not destroyed enzymes that help the ageing process, but I thought white tea was not like this.
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Re: White Tea or Sheng?

Postby miig » Mar 27th, '14, 16:41

Hey,
thats a good question indeed.
I'm a tea beginner myself, so I cannot definetly answer your question, but I'll try anyways, by adding some thoughs on the subject which may be more or less correct / helpful.

First I'd say that all these categories do their job, to categorize teas, very well for most teas. But these categories combine different aspects like cultivar, production technique, appearance, aging and more, and as always there are some candidates which are not as easily classified, so I wouldn't expect these classifications to be the last word on the subject.
Still, globally, I only heard the term "Sheng" in reference to Pu'er, to be more exact, to distinguish "pile-fermented" Pu'Er - Shu - from the old school stuff :lol:

And, for the sake of completeness, while "white tea" is such a category, for Sheng the category would be "hei cha - dark tea", from which Pu'Er is a subitem, being the most prominent one of course.

Another thought is that you can of course press virtually anything to cakes, so that may not account for much. There are red (= in western terms, black) tea cakes, oolong cakes, so why not white tea cakes. I'm still waiting for a nice Bing of Gyukuro though :mrgreen:

Also, maybe White tea is not so extremely much different from Pu'er, because they're both rather simply processed teas compared to, say, Oolong. Withering, kill-green, drying, that's more or less it. Of course, there is a world of variations possible here, hence this is a very, very coarse statement, if that comparison is possible at all!

Still, I find it rather surprising that anyone would mix these two labels up in the first place. Would be interesting to know where you read that, its well possible that this person knew very well what he (she) was saying.

And for the enzymes: If I'm correct, Pu'Er does also undergo the "sha quing" process to kill off enzymes, but that technique is carried out in a more careful manner than with green tea in order to let SOME of the enzymes survive the process. I believe that if that isn't done at all, the tea will oxidize and become very similar to "red tea" (Hong Cha, which is called black tea in the west).

Heres a nice and short article on the subject: Tea Urchin - How is Pu'Er processed differently from other teas

Finally, I say again that I'm an amateur on the subject and that I'm not qualified to seriously answer your question. I mainly spit out what I've read along the way from sources I believe to be trustworthy. If anyone who has more first-hand knowledge on the subject would contribute and / or correct, it would be great.
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Postby bonescwa » Mar 28th, '14, 18:18

I heard aged white is popular in China. So is aged oolong, maybe because it still has an aged taste but is usually cheaper than puerh. Things may age by oxidation as well as bacterial fermentation.
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White Tea or Sheng?

Postby mcrdotcom » Mar 28th, '14, 18:27

bonescwa wrote:I heard aged white is popular in China. So is aged oolong, maybe because it still has an aged taste but is usually cheaper than puerh. Things may age by oxidation as well as bacterial fermentation.


Yeah, I've had aged TGY before, it was quite nice!
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Re: White Tea or Sheng?

Postby hongtea » Apr 13th, '14, 05:04

Here in Southern Fujian, we normally divided TGY into Sheng TGY and Shu TGY, Sheng means green, Shu means roasted, it's easy to remind people how the tea is by these 2 words.

Regarding White tea, fresh teas could be Sheng as it has green color, 1 year or 2 years or more could be Shu, because it's hardly to find the green.

To this point, it's different from Puerh, it's not about fermentation, it's just a word to easy differ fresh or old teas.

That's my 2 cents :)

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Re: White Tea or Sheng?

Postby chrl42 » May 20th, '14, 04:30

I think you are confused among White, Sheng and Green.

3 are all different types. What makes them different is process of making.

When a tea leaf (Greens) is plucked, they get withered then they get 'heat' (whether from wok or steaming)..then rubbing process is done which is a key in making out flavors...then they get dried (whether under the sun or machines).

In Whites, rubbing process is omitted and very little heating. Until they get fully dried, the leaves see natural oxidation as a completed product.

Puerh Sheng has relatively weak rubbing and heating process (yet long)..that is, they are processed to be aged better.


Now back to the topic, White tea in general refers to the specific tea trees (Fujian 'Da Bai Hao') and process of making, particularly the places of Zheng He and Fu Ding of Fujian province.

When it's mentioned as White of Yunnan, I assume they could be Yue Guang Bai (Moon Light White) of sort. Which (correct me if I'm wrong) I understand as using similar-to-Fujian-white-tea-tree and follow the steps of Fujian white making. :D
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