Tea, in the late 1700s and early 1800s was surrounded by intrigue, conspiracy and even war, although not so now. Or so we thought until a few years ago, ‘white tea’ seemed to take on a new shine, for the major tea brands. Nothing ominous in that I hear you say, but what was ominous was that in none of these packs could we find real White Tea.
One or two had a few leaves of white tea although together that real white tea content was less than 2% of the net weight of the tea in those packs. White Tea is handmade tea, consisting of the tender bud of a special cultivar of camellia sinensis. It has a certain distinct, silvery appearance and produces a light and refined liquor.
The ‘white teas’ we found on supermarket shelves, and still do for that matter, was in fact green oolong or in some cases even black tea. It soon became apparent that this form of ‘white tea’ was in fact the response of marketers in the major tea companies, to flagging tea sales. Their efforts to find the silver bullet that would help their brand hit their sales targets were unfortunately fundamentally flawed because they focus only on the appearance, the marketing potential, and not on that most basic of product attributes, quality, and leading from quality, authenticity.
This is not of course a consipiracy but it comes close. In seeking to wring sales out of every form of tea, from ‘white tea’ to Pu-Erh, to ‘teas’ that are not in fact tea, like Mate, and herbs, these slick marketers are attacking the foundations of the tea industry and tea category itself. Not because they are advertising and promoting new teas but because they are doing so without understanding tea, the heritage and soul of this great industry.
The opportunity in tea lies not with fancy teas, nor ‘innovations’ but rather in a return to quality. White Tea is a delightful and excellent form of tea – we have described it for you in detail at www.white.dilmah.com. Please have a look, and remember to take the White Tea Test.