White tea is very different from other types of tea such as green or black tea. White tea leaves are plucked from a special varietal tea bush called Narcissus or chaicha bushes. Secondly the leaves are not steamed or pan-fired (the process used in green teas) or fermented and fired (the process used in black tea). The leaves are naturally withered and dried in the sun. If mechanical drying is required it is a baking process at temperatures less that 40’C. Thirdly only special ‘two leaves and a bud’ are selected. These leaves must show a very light green almost gray white color and be ideally be covered with velvet peach fuzz down. Sowmee is one of the lower grades of white tea, but despite this it has the properties attributed to white teas. The leaves for Sowmee are plucked during late April, May and June. The lack of processing and hand selection is evident in the leaf appearance of Sowmee as it is somewhat mixed and tending flaky and flat. This Sowmee has a more pronounced taste profile - almost oolong tea-like. Many white tea drinkers prefer this cup in that there is a ‘substance’ to the taste compared to the delicate nuances of other white teas.Researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute in Oregon tested white teas on selected rats to test for the ability of white tea to inhibit natural mutations in bacteria and to protect them from colon cancer. Interestingly, white teas were found to be more effective than green tea in inhibiting the early stages of cancer but researchers pointed out that their study was on rats and the effects should not be extrapolated to humans. The researchers also found that white tea contains higher levels of caffeine compared to green tea brewed under the same conditions. They suggested that this could occur because white tea oxidizes during withering whereas in green tea the oxidation process is stopped early in the tea making process by steaming or panfiring.The western cosmetic industry is beginning to make a white tea extract to be worn underneath your moisturizer. The reason is that it seems white tea has been shown to be more effective in mopping up free radicals that cause skin to sag. One tea expert has been quoted as saying ‘unlike black or green tea, it isn’t rolled or steamed, this preserves its antioxidant properties’.