Thursday, May 10, 2012

My Top 10 Pages On White Tea

Recently, I posted a A Challenge: What Are The 10 Most Useful Web Pages On White Tea?. In this post I demonstrated how the pages that come up in a google search for "white tea" are not all high-quality, carefully-maintained websites and articles, and I challenged people to come up with what results they personally would prefer, in their ideal world, to come up.

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).

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
You may notice that there is not a single page on this list that is dedicated specifically to the health benefits or health effects of white tea, although the Wikipedia article does touch on this issue, and RateTea's article and a few other pages on the various websites linked to also discuss the common caffeine myth. This is not because I don't think this is an important topic, it is because I think most of the sites dealing with this topic are either lower in quality, or (like academic articles in peer-reviewed journals) not accessible to a general audience and thus not terribly useful to return on a first page of search results.

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.


  1. Hi Alex. When you posted the blog that this is following up on, I wrote a lengthy reply that never showed up. What exactly happened to that comment? I did criticize your website somewhat, but I took pains to do so in a respectful and constructive manner, intending only to give helpful feedback. I'm certainly hoping the comment's non-appearance was just a simple mistake. Perhaps it is still sitting in the queue unnoticed?

    1. Apologies! There were two comments, yours and one other, both of which I chose not to publish. I did read both of them! And I really appreciate the feedback about the site! I just thought that both of the comments contained feedback that was sufficiently off-topic to the post and I felt that if I published the comments, because both of them were going in a direction other than what I intended, it would encourage more such dialogue and perhaps discourage people from thinking about the post in the way that I had intended.

      My intent with that post was to spark a dialogue about white tea pages on the net in particular, not about the overall performance of RateTea in search rankings. I chose the white tea page because it was a particularly glaring illustration of a search where I felt the best results were not showing up very high (as you will see by the absence of most of the pages I feature in this post in the original search). There are other internet searches in which RateTea performs very well, and there are also searches in which it does not perform well, but in which the top results returned are all sites that I personally believe (and I think most people would agree) are pretty relevant, useful results to return.

      I wanted to focus on the white tea search because it was one that I thought was a particularly glaring shortcoming.

      I also have been under a lot of stress this week and had been feeling discouraged about a lot of things at the moment I got both of the comments, and I did not feel like engaging in an extended discussion because I was worried that I would take things personally, and that it would turn into some sort of argument, which, again, is not what I intended!