Not quite white …

by Dilhan

2009 - Not quite White 1

Lenin wrote that ‘a lie told often enough becomes the truth.’ Generations of politicians before and after him have relied on this wisdom. Corporations have followed suit, and even tea has not been spared its vile influence. White Tea, is in many ways a most refined form of tea. Nurturing real white tea – such as the Silver Tips we produce on some of our tea gardens – requires enormous commitment and expertise. From the special cultivar of Camellia Sinensis that is used to make White Tea, to the gentle handpicking of the buds and their expertly supervised preparation, it is a labour of love. There is art, expertise and dedication in producing fine tea and those requirements are more exacting in handmaking real white tea.

Any tea grower must therefore be incensed when this cherished tradition is hijacked, robbed of its distinctiveness and art, and presented – steeped in lies – to tea drinkers. All in the name of profit. The white lie, is especially dangerous when you consider that not only is it a lie, but it also denies the opportunity for tea producers to demonstrate their art and engage tea drinkers through the perfect expression of our art. Frustrated by the gross commercialisation and deception in white tea, we shared a producer’s perspective on White Tea a few years ago There we explained the white lie.

In this blog in December, I shared astonishment that the white lie had not only intensified in Europe but was taking on more sophisticated forms 2009 - Not quite White 2Whilst visiting stores in Sydney I was encouraged to see that possibly the ‘category leader’ had started moving towards a more authentic, at least partly genuine white tea. That assumption was based on the higher price on shelf, which I hoped reflected the reality that genuine white tea costs 50-100 times more than black tea. That hope faded on further investigation for the price increase was in fact led by the larger number of teabags in the pack, and the contents were no closer to the truth than before, possibly even less so. Inferior green tea in a package labelled ‘White Tea’.

Suggesting that the marketers who devised this most recent deception had also studied Lenin, the package is adorned with enticing descriptions, ‘….White Tea is our most refined tasting tea. The delicate leaves are treated with the utmost care. It’s plucked by hand and minimally processed…’. Clearly, a lie told often enough becomes the truth. Yet as tea producers, with a love for tea, its authenticity, for its natural goodness, for our customers and for integrity, we console ourselves in the words of statesman and philosopher, Benjamin Franklin, ‘“A lie stands on one leg, truth on two”.

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