Baicha, literally meaning “white tea” in Chinese, is one of China's six types of teas. This white downy tea is processed in two steps only, withering and drying. Although Baicha has a long recorded history and many legends, its commercial production is a little more than 200 years old, beginning with Yinzhen production in 1796 in the last year of the Emperor Qianlong. The Chinese have mastered the art of manufacturing buds with white hairy down intact.
Very little processing is done in the manufacture of white tea. The tea leaves are slightly steamed and then mostly sun-dried. The tea steeps a very delicate, light cup with vegetative flavor. The liquor and leaf, like the tea's name, look white and are probably the most prestigious and romantic of all types of teas.
Recently, some white teas have been produced in Darjeeling, Nilgiri, and Sri Lanka. Very small quantities of white tea are produced, since it is very labor intensive.