Is white tea oxidized?!?!

White and yellow teas are among the most subtle.

Is white tea oxidized?!?!

Postby needaTEAcher » Nov 14th, '12, 07:10

Normally I find myself on the other side of the forum, but I thought I would take a walk today. :)

I spent some time in the Teaware Museum in Hong Kong, and read a few different things that put white tea as "Slightly Fermented", pushing the spectrum as Green-White-Oolong-Red-Black.

My understanding is that the word "fermented" is what we used to call it, but these days chemists chimed in and said, "No, that's oxidation-puerh is fermented." So switching "Fermented" with "Oxidized", is white tea lightly oxidized?! I always thought whites and greens were not, oolongs scaling along partial, and reds being the most oxidized, and puerhs/blacks being fermented (though people with far more chemical and biological understanding than I have hammered into my head that the idea of "fully oxidized" is a simplification of rather more complicated ratios of this chemial to that chemical, with "fully oxidized" meaning "optimum ratio of this to that for flavor and smell"). Also, I figure that no teas are truly without fermentation, since they get jostled and bruised when they are picked, and it is several hours at least between stem and fixing station, so I don't think it is about that (since they listed greens as "Not Fermented").

So am I crazy? Is white tea partially oxidized? Any chimes here? Thanks!

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Re: Is white tea oxidized?!?!

Postby SilentChaos » Nov 14th, '12, 10:16

Well, as far as I know, white teas are 'spontaneously' oxidized during withering before kill-green; whereas green tea pretty much go from plucked to kill-green. So green tea is not oxidized in the sense that it doesn't go through controlled oxidation, and measures are taken to minimize spontaneous oxidation as well.

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Re: Is white tea oxidized?!?!

Postby MEversbergII » Jul 8th, '13, 12:34

Basic, quality white tea is left to oxidize a short while (hours to a few days) without any kind of external force applied to the leaves to break open cells to facilitate oxidation. So, like green it isn't rolled or crushed, but unlike green it's left around long enough before kill-green that some of the cells break down anyways.

I've been told more commercial "white" teas are actually semi-fermented teas. The process starts like black tea, where the leaves are curled, twisted, crushed etc to begin oxidation, but the process is halted with heat before it gets too far. This is faster and easier to standardize, but it's not really white tea per se, as it is processed differently.


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Re: Is white tea oxidized?!?!

Postby teaisme » Jul 8th, '13, 13:56

I enjoy the oxidized whites quite a bit, much more gentle then the avg white, good late late at night or on a warm bright morning

the white tea at houde is pretty oxidized and will continue to do so rather fast, crushed to high heaven and packed heavy is the way I like this one ... ts_id=1431

this one at jing is also pretty oxidized and good ... a-ysbc.cfm

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Re: Is white tea oxidized?!?!

Postby MEversbergII » Jul 9th, '13, 08:42

Here's the article that got me started on white tea: ... dwEp9jLsko


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Re: Is white tea oxidized?!?!

Postby Evan Draper » Jul 11th, '13, 11:44

teaisme wrote:crushed to high heaven and packed heavy is the way I like this one

:shock: Never tried CZ fat packin' a white tea! Don't know if I have the stones to try... :?

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Re: Is white tea oxidized?!?!

Postby teaisme » Jul 11th, '13, 13:52

the one at houde is really gentle, the leaf/stem system is pretty intact, large and brittle, even super packed it doesn't jolt me at all, just 4-5 pleasant infusions.

It's a nice contrast to young pu, I wonder if that was his intent.

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Re: Is white tea oxidized?!?!

Postby AlexZorach » Sep 29th, '13, 15:59

I think in general, the larger-leaf white teas tend to undergo more oxidation, and I think across the board white tea does tend to have greater oxidation than green.

This is particularly evident in large-leaf white teas like shou mei, or moonlight white (which is not always classified as a white tea), which have a pretty dark color, more like a darker oolong or even black tea. The larger leaf retains more moisture, so it has more chance to oxidize. For the same reason, in an abnormally dry year, these teas will be less oxidized.

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Re: Is white tea oxidized?!?!

Postby MacGuffin » Feb 3rd, '14, 20:22

From the Seven Cups site (I don't think Austin would mind): "Unlike green tea, white tea is never fired or steamed to kill the enzymatic action that causes oxidation. Instead, oxidation of the leaves is prevented by their lack of moisture. The withering process is very long and gradual, thus slight oxidation of the leaves (or buds) will naturally occur. With this slight amount of oxidation, white tea's color is typically not as bright or green as you would expect from a green tea."

I think what it boils down to, and what seems to confuse a lot of people, is that while white tea is the least processed of the Chinese teas, green tea is the least oxidized because the oxidation process is arrested through the use of fairly high heat ASAP after harvesting (this is why kukicha is also considered "green," even though it's brown in color). Also, "fermentation" and "oxidation" are entirely different processes. The former usually involves microorganisms, e.g. SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) used to ferment kombucha; the latter is due to exposure to oxygen, e.g. a cut apple begins to oxidize (turn that appetizing brown) soon after being cut and might eventually ferment after exposure to whichever bacterium it is that's responsible for such things.

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Re: Is white tea oxidized?!?!

Postby chrl42 » Feb 4th, '14, 09:27

From what I know, white tea is oxidised, not fermented.

Also they don't have a kill-green (rubbing) process done and that's why white tea is slightly oxidised. No other tea I know of, except Heicha or Puerh, sees fermentation.

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