This post shows my ranking. I know it is really tough and a lot of work to come up with a list like this, but I would like to encourage people to do it, because I think it will have a positive effect on tea culture by helping to draw attention to companies selling high-quality teas, and to websites which contain valuable information. I would also like to encourage people to challenge my list in the comments, providing me with other sites they'd like to see in the list.
My (admittedly biased) ranking:
I want to say ahead of time that this ranking is far from perfect, and there are undoubtedly a lot of good sites omitted from this list. If your site is not on this list and you think it belongs here, please don't feel bad--just leave a comment! If I get enough replies I may write a follow-up post about new pages I discovered through this process.
This list is skewed by my own bias of tea companies and websites which I have happened upon largely through chance, and it's also skewed by my own tastes and preferences (which, in white teas, tend towards sampling pure white teas from unusual regions).
- White Tea on Wikipedia - This page is far from perfect, but I still think it is the best search result to return in the first position. It is wikified, meaning that it is linked into a bunch of pages on related topics, it is relatively well-referenced (much more so than any other page I could find), with numerous in-line citations to published books and articles in peer-reviewed journals. It also is an independent resource, not maintained by a tea company, and it is continually evolving, in such a way that makes it highly likely that the page will tend to get better over time.
- White Tea on RateTea - I realize I'm biased here, but I think that this is the second-best page about white tea on the net, and I think this page belongs in as the second search result. Like Wikipedia, it is independent of any tea company, and it is well-maintained and updated. It is also tied into a database of white teas from various tea companies, and these teas are classified by brand, type of white tea, and region of origin. There are also separate articles on each type of white tea and each region producing white tea. Even without the reviews (of which there are 50), this page is both useful as an informational resource, and as a tool for browsing different sources of buying white tea.
- White & Yellow Tea Forum on TeaChat - TeaChat, a forum run by Adagio Teas, has a whole section dedicated to discussion about white and yellow tea, and as one might expect, it is primarily about white tea. I would place this page third in the search results for white tea because it is, in my experience, the single place online where one can find the most active discussion of white teas.
- White Teas from Upton Tea Imports - I placed Upton so high on this list because of the thoroughness of its catalogue, especially in terms of unusual offerings that are not readily available elsewhere. Although the white teas sold by Upton come in and out of stock, and at any time, not all are available, the company offers a remarkable number of white teas from "non-standard" regions, including Ceylon, Kenya, Assam, Darjeeling, and Taiwan. Among Chinese white teas, Upton also stands out as having the largest selection of Shou Mei (Longevity Eyebrows) of any Western tea company that I know of, and they also sell a few other white teas that go beyond the usual silver needle and white peony, including the "pseudo-white" Yunnan tea, moonlight white.
- About White Tea - Seven Cups - Seven Cups is a small retailer of Chinese teas. Although their catalogue only currently has one white tea, I found their informational article about white tea to be very rich and thorough on the topics of white tea history and production in China. There are also many photographs depicting white tea production, although they are unlabelled.
- What Really is a White Tea? on TeaGuardian - TeaGuardian is a strictly informational site about tea, run by Leo Kwan. I discovered this site through someone linking to it as a reference on Wikipedia; although I removed it as a reference because I did not think it met Wikipedia's strict guidelines for a reliable source, as it is self-published, I do think that this page and the related pages on the site presents above-average information above white tea. Not only is this site thorough and accurate, but it has some great photos of tea leaf illustrating the points it makes, and it is likely to contain some information that most people do not know.
- Best White Teas on Steepster - Steepster also has a database of white teas. I think this list is complementary to RateTea's resource. Although Steepster has no informational articles about white tea, and groups all white tea (including flavored teas) into a single category, Steepster stands out in having more ratings and more reviews (or tasting notes) than RateTea, or than any other site that I am aware of. As such I think it also belongs on this list.
- White Tea on Norbu Tea - Norbu Tea is a small tea company selling single-harvest, single-origin teas. Although I have yet to try any of this company's teas, the pages on each of this company's white teas stand out in describing the harvest date, specific location of production (to much more detail than most companies offer), and cultivar used. Furthermore, there is a detailed article about each individual tea, explaining the influence of location and cultivar, and the history and character of each particular tea.
- White & Yellow Tea on JK Tea Shop - JK Tea shop carries a number of Chinese white teas as well, including ones hard to find in the West. Like Norbu Tea it provides information on cultivar, specific region of production, and harvest date. There are also great photos of the dry leaf, as well as the leaf brewing in a gaiwan, used leaf, and brewed liquor. And take a look at the prices too! I have yet to try any of these teas but I rarely see leaf that looks this good for this low a price.
- White Tea: Culmination of Elegance - This is a pretty lengthy article, by Joshua Keiser, about white tea, hosted on TeaMuse, a site run by Adagio Tea. Although it is unreferenced, it does have a lot of information and it also links to some of Adagio Tea's offerings of white tea. Adagio stocks several different types of Chinese white teas, and one Darjeeling white; I have tried three of these teas and liked all of them, especially their white peony.
If you think your page belongs on this list, or if you think I have omitted a good resource, please let me know:
I may not know of (or have forgotten about) a page that, if I thought about it, I would like to place in this list, perhaps bumping the last page or two off the list. If you would like me to consider any other page, please leave a blog comment or contact me by some other means!
I found the end of this list in particular really tough to put together.
Please publish your list:
The point of this post is to reshape the search environment surrounding white tea, in order to promote the websites that are offering the best and most useful, accurate, and informative sites on the topic of white tea.
If you have a blog or website, please publish your own list! I know that it is very hard to come up with a list like this. But this attempt to reshape the internet search landscape around white tea will only work if a large number of bloggers take up this challenge.