White tea is not as popular in the West as other varieties such as black, red or green, but it is a well-known and appreciated infusion in China.
White tea is one of the most natural teas out there. By this we mean that its production process is extremely simple, which ensures that the tea maintains the original properties of the tea leaves intact and a delicate, fresh and natural taste.
White tea is made by collecting and drying the leaves of the Camellia sinensis, the tea plant. In this process, in addition, only the most tender buds of the plant are selected. This varies depending on the type and quality of white tea, but usually the raw material is limited to still closed leaf buds and small newly opened leaves.
The white vegetable hairs that cover the tender shoots are a hallmark of the tea, and it is common to find them in the infusions of the highest quality teas.
The difference between white tea and the rest
The key to white tea’s health properties is its mild oxidation process.
During oxidation processes, catechins, antioxidants naturally present in tea leaves, break down and lose their potency.
While most teas go through processes in which the leaves are left to oxidize for a period of time, when white tea is brewed, its oxidation process stops right after it is harvested.
This is achieved by the action of heat, usually steam, although sometimes it is also roasted on a kind of pan.
With this, it is ensured that the concentration of catechins in white teas is higher than in other more oxidized varieties such as green or black.
The tea with the most antioxidants
Antioxidants are substances that protect our cells from the damaging effect of free radicals and oxidative stress. Current scientific research suggests that a diet high in antioxidants is associated with a lower risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other conditions.
Fruits, vegetables, and tea are excellent sources of antioxidants.
All teas are produced from the same plant, but their properties for health (and also for the palate) vary depending on two fundamental factors: the cultivation territory and its production process.
The type and method of harvesting the leaves, whether they are rolled, crushed or roasted, the drying time… All these steps make the flavor and properties of a black tea totally different from those of a white tea. .
The production processes that involve more “aggressive” methods that affect the integrity of the leaf (crushed, crushed…), roast it or subject it to long oxidation processes also affect the composition of each tea. The concentration of antioxidants decreases, and with it their beneficial effects on our health.
The process of making white tea is totally minimalist: the leaves (which are also the most select of the plant) are collected and dried in the sun. This ensures that the concentration of antioxidants is maintained at its maximum and makes white tea a rich source of these beneficial substances for our health.
Is white tea better than green tea?
Green tea is probably one of the most famous teas for its health benefits. As you know, the concentration of antioxidants present in the tea plays an important role in this.
The amount of antioxidants decreases depending on the oxidation time to which the tea is subjected for its preparation.
Green tea is a tea that goes through a low oxidation process compared to other varieties such as black tea. Hence its fame (fully deserved) of being a great source of antioxidants.
Now, if we compare it with white tea, things change. White tea goes through an even shorter oxidation process, so its concentration of antioxidants is even higher.
In this way, white tea would be better than green if we judge it based on the contribution of antioxidants that it can provide for our diet. Of course, there are more parameters to judge and not only related to health, a more subjective factor also matters, which is the taste, right?
We recommend that you do not obsess. Any type of tea will be a contribution of antioxidants to your diet that will benefit your health. The important thing, therefore, is to drink tea.
Main varieties of white tea
The market offers various types of white tea. China produces most of them, but it is true that there are varieties with surprising tastes in India, Nepal, Thailand and Sri Lanka. The best known and considered varieties of white tea are the following.
Bai Hao Yin Zhen (Silver Needle White Tea)
It is undoubtedly the best known and most appreciated white tea. It is very popular in China and can often be found at prohibitive prices.
You will immediately understand the name Silver Needle when you see the product. This tea is made from the unopened buds of a variety of tea plant that produces particularly large leaves. Once the shoots dry, they resemble large grayish needles.
This tea will delight palates with a preference for soft and delicate flavors. Silver needle tea produces a pale golden infusion, with floral aromas and fresh, vegetal tastes.
Bai Mu Dan (White Peony White Tea)
White Peony tea is made not only with buds, but also young leaves are added, which reinforces the flavor of its infusion.
The Bai Mu Dan infusion is golden and full-bodied. It offers a sweet aroma, with hints of spring greenery, chrysanthemum and peony. Its flavor profile is intense, always bearing in mind that it is a white tea, and without astringency.
Bai Mu Dan is considered an excellent quality/price choice for a white tea.
All the properties of white tea
The skin is the largest organ in the human body and provides a barrier against UVA radiation, chemicals, microbes and physical pollutants. These factors can contribute to skin aging and inflammation, which is characterized by oxidative damage.
Some herbal extracts and natural products prevent or reduce oxidative stress. The scientific literature contains numerous examples of the use of the properties of white tea for the topical treatment of skin disorders.
In fact, white tea is commonly used in commercial skin care products and is often touted for its astringent and antioxidant properties.
White tea is known for its polyphenol content and high antioxidant properties, along with its potential anti-aging effects through collagenase and elastase inhibition.
Oral Health Uses
Rinsing your mouth with white tea is effective against plaque formation. This study analyzed its antibacterial properties that inhibit the growth of some of the main bacteria involved in the formation of dental plaque.
On the other hand, white tea contains significant concentrations of fluoride, effective in preventing cavities. Fluorides are often found in dental hygiene products to strengthen tooth enamel and make teeth stronger against cavities.
There is an ongoing line of research to determine the potential of tea consumption to prevent cancer. To date, this relationship has not yet been determined with sufficient accuracy, but there are numerous studies that continue to analyze this issue.
White tea is considered the least processed form of tea and a number of potent bioactivities have been studied on it as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic and anticancer.
This study showed that white tea extract was effective in inhibiting the proliferation of cancer cells by inducing cell death. This is interesting to open up new possibilities for drug manufacturing.
This other study in Canada also points to the potential of white tea extract to slow down tumor growth and propose less toxic alternatives to current cancer therapies.
In a project, the gallic acid present in white tea was used to improve anticancer compounds used in the treatment of the disease. In this scientific project, its effectiveness against lung, breast and colon cancer cells was analyzed.
Research continues to determine the potential application of tea-related compounds in cancer treatment.
Promotes cardiovascular health
Many factors affect the health of the heart. Exercising regular and moderate physical activity, eating a healthy and balanced diet, not smoking and regular check-ups are fundamental recommendations.
Consuming tea regularly has benefits in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases by lowering blood pressure and controlling the level of lipids in the blood.
Some studies, suggest that catechins, an antioxidant present in tea, could help reduce blood pressure, improve circulation and mitigate the risk of cardiovascular disease.
White tea is one of the teas with the highest concentration of antioxidants due to its particular production process. This study highlighted the ability of white tea to moderate acute oxidative stress and related damage.
Treatment and prevention of diabetes
The incidence of diabetes continues to increase in the population of many countries and is considered a major public health problem.
The possible association between tea consumption and type 2 diabetes is still being studied. For now, the results are inconclusive.
Tea contains high concentrations of flavonoids. These are compounds of plant origin with highly valued properties in medicine. They have antimicrobial, anticancer effects, to reduce the risk of heart disease and others.
Flavonoids from some plants have been shown to be effective in treating diabetes. In addition to its antioxidant effects, its effects on carbohydrate metabolism are being studied .
This study linked regular tea consumption with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
On the other hand, in Portugal, analyzed the effect of consuming white tea in an animal experiment to better understand whether it can serve to mitigate glucose fluctuations and oxidative stress induced by glucose. brain-damaging hyperglycemia. Daily consumption of white tea improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. The results, therefore, suggested that it is a cheap, safe and economic method to prevent the effects of diabetes on the brain.
Tea consumption has become popular among athletes Catechins, so abundant in white tea, have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They also reduce cortisol and relax blood vessels, increasing the muscle’s ability to uptake glucose.
This study suggests that white tea catechins are beneficial for muscle recovery.
Promotes hair growth
There are good reasons why this tea is a common ingredient in cosmetic products. The properties of white tea derive, in large part, from a component called EGCG. This is part of the polyphenols, antioxidants that are very common in white tea due to its production process.
A study whose results suggest that this component stimulates hair growth.
Although there are numerous studies on how green tea consumption affects weight, this type of research is still relatively scarce when it comes to white tea.
A study concluded that white tea can help lose weight, as it speeds up metabolism and allows nutrients to be absorbed more efficiently.
L-theanine, present in all teas, plays an important role in the properties of white tea as an invigorating drink.
This component is famous for its energizing effects on the human body. When combined with the caffeine in the tea, it causes it to be absorbed more slowly.
In this way, although it may seem contradictory, tea promotes a state of “calm alertness”. It makes us feel awake but also relaxed.
Contraindications and side effects of white tea
No negative effects from excessive consumption of white tea have been described so far beyond the following.
It is true that tea contains caffeine and, therefore, excessive consumption can lead to agitated states, promote insomnia, create gastrointestinal discomfort and dizziness.
Avoiding caffeine consumption is especially important for pregnant or lactating women.
Your excuse to drink white tea
Drinking tea regularly is a delicious way to take care of your body with very little effort. We hope we’ve given you a few compelling reasons to try white tea if you’re new to it.
White tea gives you all the usual benefits of tea consumption and can help prevent serious conditions like cancer and diabetes while helping to maintain beautiful, healthy skin, hair and mouth.
Although white tea is not as popular as other varieties, it should not be particularly difficult to find it in herbal shops or specialized infusion stores. In addition, you have a few varieties with different flavors. We hope you enjoy them!