Anji Baicha, (translated Anji White Tea) is grown in Anji County, Zhejiang province. Although the name indicates a white tea, Anji Baicha is definitely processed as a green tea. The term "white" in this instance refers to the appearance of the plant itself, the leaves of which are very pale, almost white, as is the color of the liquor. One of the characteristic of Anji Bai Cha tea plants is that they produce very little chlorophyll during the winter when temperatures are quite low (ranging from minus 8 to 10 degree Celsius). As a result, since less theanine is converted to chlorophyll, the tea buds contain higher levels of health enhancing theanine. The tea buds are white in color. After processing, the tea leaves acquire a pale yellowish-green color. The plucking season is very short, only about 30 days in early spring. Once the temperature rises to above 25 degrees celsius the leaves are noticeably greener and have changed in flavor.
Anji Bai Cha has a long history dating from the Song Dynasty (960 to 1276 a.d.) The famous Song Dynasty Emperor Huizong --who was known more as a gifted artist than as an emperor--wrote a book on tea called General Remarks on Tea. In it he wrote about a tea plant with jade white leaves. This tea plant remained a mystery for 900 years until in 1980 a single white tea bush (now known to be the ancestor of Anji Bai Cha) was found in Anji County, Zhejiang province. Experts believe that this was the tea plant mentioned in the book. All Bai Cha bushes are descended from this one tea bush which is estimated to be approximately 300 years old. It has taken since 1980 to propogate enough bushes to produce a commercial crop.