Did you know that the same plant, Camellia sinensis, is the basis for making black tea, white tea, and indeed any type of tea? Well yes. What truly sets teas apart is the process that the leaves of this amazing plant go through during brewing.
This production process affects not only the flavors and aromas of the teas, but also their effects on health. If you are looking for a healthy infusion to start the day with energy, doubts may assail you. What is the healthiest drink? Is it better to drink white tea or black tea?
What makes the difference between white tea and black tea
To prepare white tea, only the youngest shoots are usually harvested manually. The raw material used to make black tea is more diverse and includes mature leaves, although the highest quality teas also use a good portion of young shoots.
The main responsible for the differences between white tea and black tea is the oxidation process (or rather, the lack of it).
The oxidation process stops almost immediately when white teas are brewed. To achieve this, the shoots are gently cooked, usually using steam. For its part, black tea undergoes a longer controlled oxidation process before being dried to stop it. Thus, a more intense tea is obtained in the mouth and with higher levels of caffeine.
Is white tea or black tea better for health?
Tea is, in general, a healthy drink.
One reason is that it is one of the main dietary sources of flavonoids, substances with antioxidant properties that act by fighting free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that can cause cell damage, causing premature aging or even some serious diseases such as cancer or cardiovascular problems.
As usual, there are some shared characteristics related to the health benefits of white tea and black tea, but some differences derived from their different manufacturing processes. Let’s discover them.
Camellia sinensis leaves are rich in flavonoids, compounds from the polyphenol family that occur naturally in plants and have antioxidant properties.
These substances would help the body fight against harmful molecules that could cause all kinds of diseases, from heart to stroke and even cancer.
Different studies have indicated that the oxidation process to which tea leaves are subjected produces a decrease in the concentration of polyphenols. In other words, those more processed teas would have a lower concentration of this substance than the less processed ones.
This is one of the reasons why slightly oxidized teas such as green or white have become popular as healthy drinks. White tea, being less processed than black, has a higher content of flavonoids and therefore, a higher power to:
- Reduce blood pressure, one of the risk markers for heart disease.
- Reduce the risk of strokes.
- Act on glucose, helping to prevent or control type 2 diabetes mellitus.
- Reduce the risk of cancer, including breast, prostate, colorectal and gastric.
While these properties would be superior in white tea, that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from them by drinking black tea, if that’s your preference. Black tea also contains polyphenols, but in lower concentrations.
Slowing of premature aging
This property comes hand in hand with the previous one. Flavonoids, which protect us against diseases, also act by helping to stop oxidative damage and slowing down premature aging.
One of the most noticeable results are the effects on the skin. White tea is considered to have benefits for the skin, helping us to keep it smoother, healthier and more youthful.
Reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease
Habitual and regular intake of caffeine has been linked to a possible reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease.
In this way, drinking tea in general, but especially black, which is usually characterized by a higher concentration of caffeine, could act as a protection against this disease.
Lower cholesterol levels
For years, scientific studies have analyzed the relationship between tea consumption and the reduction of “bad” cholesterol levels. In fact, it has been proven that the intake of black tea would help lower LDL and total cholesterol.
Although there are no specific studies on white tea, its basis of action could be the same.
Tea is often recommended as a supplement to diets to lose weight. This is due to the fact that in recent years different investigations have suggested that drinking green or black tea can improve glucose tolerance, accelerating metabolism and therefore acting as an ally in weight loss.
Laboratory research concluded that white tea could stimulate the breakdown of fat cells and prevent new ones from forming.
Specifically speaking of white tea, its catechins, tannins and fluoride content are believed to act as protectors of tooth enamel, helping teeth fight bacteria and inhibiting the growth of dental plaque.
As we have already mentioned, the brewing method influences the amount of total caffeine in each type of tea. Thus, the fermentation process to which black tea is subjected directly influences its higher caffeine content, having approximately 20mg/100g.
Of course, the amount of caffeine is also influenced by the infusion time and other variables such as the growing area and the type of leaf.
White tea, on the other hand, is usually considered a less intense tea, both in flavor and in caffeine concentration.
Therefore, if you want to reduce your daily caffeine intake, the best option would be to drink a cup of white tea instead of black tea. On the contrary, if you are looking to increase your alertness, the caffeine in black tea can do you good.
White or black tea?
As you can see, drinking tea can be very beneficial for your health. It does not matter if you opt for a cup of white tea or a cup of black tea, each variety will provide you with properties that can help you stay fit and healthy.
Our recommendation? drink tea Of any type. Your health will thank you.