In the past, good quality loose leaf White Tea was difficult to find. Luckily, we now have the internet and its hundreds of tea shops. Most of them have white tea for sale. Unfortunately, much of it is low quality. Below, I give you recommendations for the best values I’ve found, along with the highest quality white teas and the cheapest.
I will also provide some good options on Amazon, since it is, for many, the most convenient place to buy tea. Finally, I have some general purchasing advice for those who don’t need my recommendations and who already have a place in mind from which to get their tea.
Organic White Hair Silver Needle Tea leaves from Art of Tea
Before all that, let’s look at the different kinds of white tea. There are three, in order from the highest quality to the lowest: White Hair Silver Needle (Baihao Yinzhen in Chinese), White Peony (Bai Mudan) and Shou Mei. Forget the last one. If you’re going to spend the money to get white tea, why would you settle for the lowest quality one?
Silver Needle White tea is considered the best and it is the most expensive. Despite that, some people actually prefer White Peony. Silver Needle tea is very mild and delicate, while White Peony has a more robust and fruity flavor. It might be worth giving both a try. If you find you prefer White Peony, you can save a lot of money in the future.
Best White Tea in Terms of Value
The best value White Hair Silver Needle tea is the 2014 Yunnan Baihao Yinzhen from Generation Tea. It’s cheaper than you’ll find at many other stores (the price ranges from $12 for 2 oz to $80 for a pound), because it comes from Yunnan province and not Fujian. I still like it though, which is why I consider it a great value. The main problem with this tea is that you’ll have to deal with Generation Tea’s hideous website.
The best White Peony tea is Art of Tea’s Organic White Peony. It’s a high quality tea that only costs $13 for a 4 oz pouch (makes around 60 cups) and $40 for a pound (~240 cups).
Best White Tea in Terms of Quality
The highest quality Silver Needle tea comes from Art of Tea (pictured at the top of this article). It is rare and often out of stock. This was the case at the time of writing, so I am not able to give you a current price. It is by far the most expensive tea listed on this page, though.
Organic White Peony leaves from Teavivre
For White Peony, Teavivre has the highest quality offering. Prices for their Organic Bai Mudan (pictured above) range from $10.90 for a 50g (1.75 oz) bag to $79.90 for a 500g (17.5 oz) bag. If you prefer tins to bags, you’ll have to pay a bit more.
Most Convenient Place to Buy White Tea
Amazon is the most convenient place to buy tea online, since almost everyone already has an account. The problem is the quality. While there are some excellent teas on Amazon, they are few and far between and it’s not always easy to find them.
When it comes to white tea, their selection leaves a lot to be desired. None of their choices are exceptional, but a few are pretty good and don’t cost all that much, so there’s no harm in trying them at least once. For White Needle Tea, I’d go with this Organic White Tea from Tealux. It costs around $24 for 4 oz and the quality is pretty good.
Amazon’s selection of White Peony is more limited. The best bet is this one from Coffee Bean Direct. It costs $32, but that gets you a full 2 pounds of tea. There’s a reason it’s so cheap though. The quality is good, but far from great. Basically, it’s a good value purchase if you’re not looking for the highest quality.
Things to Look Out For When Buying Loose Leaf Tea
If you weren’t asking “Where can I buy white tea?” and were not in need of my buying recommendations, I can still offer you some general advice for purchasing tea from online stores:
Do a bit of research
If you’re buying from an unknown website, do a bit of research first. See if they have a physical address and if they’re open about who is running the site. Read their shipping and return policies. See what the website looks like. It’s better if it looks good and if it has customer reviews you can read. That said, I know some good tea sites with ugly webpages and no review system.
In general, if you know nothing about a site and it looks poorly made and doesn’t have any feedback, I’d stay away or just place a small order to start with. Sample packs are always a great idea if you’re unsure about a tea vendor.
Where do the tea leaves come from?
Always check the origin of the tea. The best white tea comes from Fujian Province in China. If it comes from anywhere else, it will probably be a lower quality and should cost less. That does not mean you shouldn’t get tea from other areas, though. Sometimes it’s even preferable.
The Silver Needle tea I recommended above from Yunnan Province is a good example. You get a good tea and pay less, because it does not come from Fujian. In general, just be aware what you’re buying and that it should be cheaper if it comes from outside Fujian.
Stick to loose leaf tea with no additives
I’ve seen a lot of white tea in tea bags and also a lot with flavoring. In general, the tea leaves in tea bags are lower quality and when you’re buying a high quality tea (which any white tea is), it doesn’t make much sense to sacrifice quality.
Similarly, flavored teas usually use lower quality tea leaves. In most cases, the added flavors are used to cover this up. There are exceptions, of course, but not many. I recommend sticking to loose leaf teas with no additives, not even natural ones (Jasmine is an exception).
If you made it this far, you hopefully found at least on useful piece of information in this post. If you had a question I failed to answer, feel free to leave a comment below or to get in touch with me through my contact page. If you know of a better place to buy white tea than the ones I mentioned, please let me know that as well.
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