White tea is the only tea made by drying the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant immediately after plucking. Ideally, they are dried in the open air under the sun, but if the weather doesn't permit, they can also be dried in controlled rooms. For a pure white tea, only the sprouts from the top of the tea plant are used. These sprouts, known as 'buds,' have fuzzy hairs that give the tea a white appearance. It is a highly valuable and delicate tea, characterized by a light infusion with a subtle fragrance.
In practice, the fresh 'two leaves' are often plucked along with the buds to give the tea more volume and to make it more affordable. This does affect the white color of the dried leaves, but the unique drying process still preserves the unmistakably subtle and delicate flavor.
Tea is exclusively made from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant. Extracts made from ingredients other than Camellia Sinensis leaves cannot be formally called tea. They would be referred to as herbal or fruit infusions, for example. From the Camellia Sinensis shrub, only the youngest leaves are plucked, specifically the budding leaf (resembling a needle) and the two leaves next to it. This is known as the 'two leaves and a bud' plucking style. Using these freshly plucked leaves, you can make black, oolong, green, and fermented tea.
When the first leaves grow on the tea shrub after winter, they are covered in fine downy hairs. These hairs give the initial sprouts a white appearance. The young leaves are plucked within 48 hours and dried under the sun. This meticulous process results in a tea with a delicate flavor and high levels of antioxidants.