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The cradle of white tea is Fujian Province, China. In fact, for many years it was the sole reserve of a chosen few at the Chinese imperial court. However, production now takes place in other parts of the world – so it's available from other parts of China, from Darjeeling, Sri Lanka, Africa, Hawaii and elsewhere. White tea has a fine and slightly sweetish taste and it's very rich in anti-oxidants.
White teas can only be gathered for a limited period of time, this being the start of spring and merely in favourable weather conditions. The process involves very careful picking so as not to bruise buds and leaves, which would cause oxidation, and sometimes pickers wear gloves and snip buds off with little scissors. Combine this with the time-consuming method of production required, and it's no surprise that this delicate tea ranks amongst the rarest of all. The slow withering or drying process in the open air and then indoors can take 3-4 days.
White tea is named after the tiny white or silvery hairs that cover the bud as it develops at the tip of each tea shoot. The teas are usually made from just the unopened bud, gathered before it can start to unfurl. Once the brand-new buds have been carefully gathered, the enzymes are removed via steaming, then sometimes shaped by hand and finally dried.
When brewed, the leaves give a very pale, champagne-coloured liquor that has a very light, mild, sweet and velvety flavour. Drinking it regularly reduces one’s blood pressure, relieves stress and prevents cancer.