What is white tea?
Is white tea just black tea made with more milk? Yes, you can fool small children insisting to drink tea which is not good for their age. However, White tea is tea made from drying of buds and tender leaves of tea plant Camellia sinensis. Unlike manufacturing process of green tea or black tea, white tea is just buds and leaves of tea boiled and dried in natural sunlight.
Often it is known as Chinese White tea, as the usage was more popular in China. Silvery Tip Pekoe is popular variety of white tea from Fujian and Zhejiang provinces in China. Today they are grown in India, Thailand, Nepal and other countries.
Unopened tea buds of tea plant have silvery white hairs which gives white tea its whitish appearance. Brewed white tea is however pale yellow or colorless. White tea is slightly sweet in flavor and bit distinct from green tea. White tea has been long used for its health benefits and vital antioxidant activity on body. Chinese has used tea, including white tea for centuries for their medicinal properties. People in Far East consume white tea for wisdom and good health. With low caffine and high antioxidant, it is good alternative for coffee or black tea.
What is difference between White tea and green tea?
While both teas are made from same plant Camellia sinensis, difference rests in selection of leaves and manufacturing process which results different profile of phytochemicals.
- White tea is made from buds and tender leaves of plant, while green tea is made from little mature leaves.
- White tea is least processed. The buds and leaves are boiled in water and dried in sunlight. While Green tea involves partial fermentation of boiled tea leaves before they are dried.
- Due to minimal processing, white tea is least oxidized. Hence antioxidant property of white tea is more than that of green tea or black tea.
- White tea requires lesser processing so lesser labor and time is required for production of white tea. But white tea involves hand picking of tender leaves and buds, which makes white tea more expensive than green tea.
- Taste of white tea is bit sweeter and gentler compared to green tea.
- Caffeine content in white tea is nearly half of that in green tea.
However Green tea is preferred over white tea because of its availability and cheaper costs.
Nutritional Value of White tea
Health benefits of white tea can be attributed to presence of tannins, fluoride and flavonoids – catechins and polyphenols present in white tea. Other important constituent of white tea is caffeine. Levels of flavonoids depend on how well are buds selected and limiting the processing. Tea plant has capacity of absorbing fluorides from pesticides and other fertilizers. Hence organic white tea may have better nutritional value in terms of fluoride content.
Health benefits of White tea
Health benefits of white tea include its ability to reduce heart disorders, cancers and diabetes. It has strong antioxidant activity due to presence of flavonoids and reduces signs of aging. It is antimicrobial in nature and protects body from infections caused by bacteria and virus. It reduces blood sugar and fats and is considered good for diabetics and weight loss. Such and more health benefits of white tea are discussed below.
Antioxidant properties of White tea
Flavonoids in tea are known to protect body from harmful effects of free radicals. Due to limited processing, white tea has stronger antioxidant activity than green tea. White tea protects skin, brain, heart, liver, kidney, pancreas and other internal organs from oxidative stress of free radicals. White tea neutralizes these free radicals and prevents them from destructing other cells of body. Various studies have confirmed antioxidant activity of white tea and its protective impact on body especially brain, heart and liver.
White tea for premature aging
Skin wrinkles, graying of hair, fatigue are some signs of premature aging. It is result of destruction of body cells by free radicals and other toxins. Catechins in White tea help protect body from premature aging through their antioxidant activity. A study suggests that regular consumption of white tea may contribute to reduced impact of free radicals on brain and resulting brain injury and age related neurodegenerative disorders.
White tea and White tea extracts benefits for skin
White tea and white tea extracts are promoted for various health benefits for skin. Cosmetic products these days include white tea extracts. It is believed that white tea reduces aging of skin, reduces wrinkles and helps get healthy and youthful skin. White tea also protects skin from sunlight and ultraviolet light. Current research is focused on photoprotective, antioxidant and antiaging properties of White tea polyphenols. Another area of research is benefits of white tea for improving elasticity of skin and its collagen. Today white tea extracts is included in topical skin formulations like creams, lotions toners and cleansers. Definitely drinking white tea has been secret of healthy and radiant skin.
White tea for healthy teeth and gums
White tea is considered beneficial for oral health. Presence of fluorides in white tea is considered effective in reducing dental caries. With strong antibacterial action, it prevents formation of plaque and tooth decay. It reduces changes of gum infections and bad breath.
White tea for stronger bones
Recent studies have suggested benefits of white tea and green tea for bone health. Osteoporosis is bone degenerative disease more common in elderly. Flavonoids in white tea help in prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. More studies are being done on benefits of white tea on diseases like arthritis and other bone diseases.
White tea to prevent and treat Cancer
A study published in Cancer Prevention Research journal has cited anti cancer effect and antitumor properties of white tea. White tea gets its power against cancer cells from rich flavonoids present in them. Flavonoids offer antioxidant property which reduces growth of cancer cells. National center for complementary and Alternative medicine article talks about white tea being beneficial over lung cancer and potential chemopreventive agent. Research has also confirmed its ability to prevent mutation. Do track further research in the area of white tea and cancer.
White tea good for diabetes
An in-vitro study has shown that white tea reduces blood sugar and body fats higher than that by Green tea. Animal studies have shown that white tea extract reduced effect of diabetes and associate abnormalities in drug induced diabetic rats. White tea can help in relieving diabetic people from symptoms like increased insulin, excessive thirst and others.
White tea reduces risk of heart diseases
Flavonoids are known to be associated with reducing risk of cardiovascular disorders. It is good for blood circulatory system. White tea with rich source of flavonoids helps improve function of heart and circulatory system. It reduces blood viscosity and thus lowers blood pressure. Catechins in white tea help in reduction of bad cholesterol from body. Research has confirmed that white tea is good tonic for heart. Regular consumption of white tea is recommended for healthy and energetic heart.
White tea Antibacterial properties
White tea has various biologically active compounds which protects body from bacterial and viral infections. It helps protect body immune system from pathogens. Consumption of white tea reduces bad breath and offers benefits for oral health as discussed above. White tea extract is used in skin cosmetics for its antibacterial property. Hot white tea provides relief in common cold and fever.
Can white tea aid Weight loss
Weight loss is not just about burning fats. While it is true that white tea increase fat burn rate and reduces body lipids, white tea offers positive effect on body which results in energy and activity. White tea reduces blood sugar and increase body metabolism. Research has found that white tea contains flavonoids and caffeine which reduces obesity resulting from diabetes. Don’t fall in for quick weight loss by white tea extracts. Rather prefer for drinking white tea along with a healthy lifestyle with various fruits and vegetables, and regular exercise as mantra for weight loss.
White tea protects against Liver disease
Clinical studies suggest that white tea with its antioxidant properties are good for protecting liver from toxins including alcohol. It is considered beneficial in treating viral hepatitis.
White tea for stress reliever
White tea flavonoids and Caffeine can ease depression by stimulating release of hormones in brain and thus reduce stress.
Low caffeine alternative to Green and Black tea
Lets see this indicative comparison of caffeine in coffee and various teas. Black tea contains roughly half the amount of caffeine in Coffee. Green tea caffeine is half that of black tea. While white tea contains caffeine equivalent to half of that of Green tea. White tea provides roughly one eighth amount of caffeine as Coffee. White tea can be preferred alternative to coffee or other tea when it comes to caffeine while enjoying similar antioxidant benefits.
Side effects of White tea extracts
Consuming high amounts of concentrated white tea catechin – EGCG on long term can be considered unsafe. Researchers studying the toxicity levels of EGCG found that 200 mg per kilogram of body weight daily had no adverse effects.
How to select White Tea
Limiting the processing of tea improves the antioxidant levels in tea. Thus consider brewing loose white tea leaves over white tea bags. Flavoured white tea bags are available these days. Pomegranate white tea bag is popular combining an antioxidant pomegranate with flavonoids of white tea. You should try one of them.
Tips for brewing white tea
White tea flavor is very delicate. Small changes such as temperature of water, water hardness or excess brewing may make the white tea astringent. It is not recommended that you boil white tea leaves. Rather hot water, not boiling should be used for brewing white tea. White tea leaves can be used for brewing more than once, only that later brewing require more time for flavors to be released.
White tea is healthier choice of beverage over green tea or black tea. Consumption of white tea is good way to remain healthy.