Drinking White Tea or Green Tea is certainly not a fad! It has benefits and healing properties often underplayed. It is also one of the most consumed beverages in the world.
Why Do I Drink White Tea?
I was first introduced to white tea in 2017 and had no idea what to expect. I just assumed it would a light-coloured and a mild-flavoured drink. Living in the City of Bengaluru with remarkably high pollution levels – White tea rich in antioxidants seemed a healthy option. This would be beneficial for my skin and general overall health. Considering the pollution in the city, the damage was starting to show on my skin, especially on my face.
I began drinking white tea because of its health benefits and soon started to love its subtle flavour and mild aroma. It was light yet refreshing. I drank it daily and over the span of a few months, I noticed myself feeling more energetic. My skin looked better, more vibrant and the blemishes on my face began to fade.
What is White Tea?
White Tea comes from the same plant (Camellia sinensis) as green and black tea. Tea harvesters go from one plant to the other and handpick the leaves and buds at a nascent stage. You will be amazed to know – the leaves are not even opened fully, and the buds have tiny white hair at this stage. Thus, the name white tea.
Since there is minimal processing of the tea leaves – white tea is of a delicate variety.
It is important to understand that white tea has a delicate and milder nature – simply because it dried naturally in the sun. However, green or black tea the leaves are dried over a longer period. Later to halt oxidation one can steam or roast the leaves.
Difference between White and Green Tea
Black Tea: Highest exposure to oxygen to make it fully oxidized. They are rolled or cut up as well for a faster oxidation process. Lastly, the leaves are introduced to artificial heat to stop oxidation. This results in darker leaves and deeper flavours.
Green Tea: Only exposed to oxygen for longer periods after they are harvested. Thereafter, heated by steaming or pan firing, and dried to prevent too much oxidation.
White Tea: Once harvested is allowed to air dry in the sun under controlled conditions. The leaves are not introduced to firing or artificial heat. This makes them the least processed, most natural variety of tea.
Being the least processed of all the teas makes it rich in antioxidants which have many health benefits. Antioxidants protect the cells in our body from damage by compounds called free radicals.
The antioxidants present in white tea protect the body’s tissues from oxidative damage. Ageing weakened immune system, chronic inflammation and a host of other harmful illnesses can be linked to free radical damage to the human body.
Studies by Oregon State University Researchers Dr. Roderick H. Dashwood, PhD and Dr Gilberto Santana-Rios, PhD indicate that due to the presence of abundant antioxidants in white tea, its consumption aids in the fight against cancer-causing cells. It also deters the spread of cancer. Regular consumption of white tea helps in boosting the metabolism and improves digestion.
Types of White Tea
Although White tea was originally cultivated in China, owing to the modern production methods and distribution, it is now available in many other regions of the world.
Outside China, other countries too process and produce their own white tea versions from the tea plant available in that country. Flavour and aroma of the product may differ depending on the region in which it is cultivated and harvested.
The more popular White Tea varieties include:
Bai Hao Yin Zhen (Silver Needle) which is the authentic variant cultivated from China’s original variety of white tea plant and comes from China’s Fujian Province.
Bai Mudan (White Peony) is a newer variety cultivated in China and other countries around the globe.
Darjeeling White Tea which comes from the Darjeeling, India, and is cultivated from the tea plant that is native to that region.
Ceylon Silver Tips and Ceylon Golden Tips are two varieties of white tea that come from Sri Lanka, which are grown from the tea tree plant in the tea growing regions of the country.
How do you make the best white tea?
It must be noted here that since there are different varieties of white tea, some of them may be brewed at higher temperatures and some at lower temperatures. However, the water in which the tea is brewed should not be at boiling point
Also, Over-steeping of the leaves in the beverage may cause it to become slightly bitter. Therefore, it is recommended to follow the instructions on the packaging of the product.
Making yourself a cup of white tea at home is a simple process
- Heat the water to the desired temperature
- Take two grams of tea leaves and place them in the hot water.
- Do not add boiling water to white tea, but water heated to 70 – 85 degrees centigrade.
- Let the leaves steep in the hot water for about two-three minutes. (Depending on the individual’s preference, you could taste and decide for yourself if you would like to steep it a while longer.)
- Then strain the leaves out and serve.
- To appreciate the flavor, it is advised to drink white tea plain due to its mild, delicate taste. However, you could always add some sugar to it, and this comes down to one’s own taste and preference.
This is a drink that is best had in the morning and after meals. White tea can be drunk daily, but it is recommended not to drink more than three cups a day.
Health Benefits of White Tea
Helps with Weight Loss
Consumption of white tea helps to burn fat. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is a compound present in white tea.
Helps to combat Cancer
Antioxidants in white tea protect healthy cells from damage. Studies as stated above at the Oregon State University also indicate that this beverage has anticancer effects and may fight cancer-causing cells deterring the spread of cancer.
Loaded with Antioxidants
White tea is a particularly good drink in the fight against free radicals. Excess free radical damage to the human body can lead to poor skin, compromised immune system, inflammations and a host of other illnesses.
White tea contains Polyphenol also found in abundance in plants. Polyphenols act as an antioxidant in the human body. They fight free radicals and help to protect our cells from damage. The antioxidants also protect the body’s tissues from oxidative damage.
White Tea Helps Prevent Skin Ageing
Skin ages externally and internally. We develop loose skin and wrinkles as our age increases. However, due to environmental factors, our skin suffers damage, accelerating the ageing process.
Polyphenols in white tea help the fibre network that keeps the skin firm and tight.
Benefits Heart Health
Consumption of white tea has benefits related to heart health due to polyphenol present in the beverage that relaxes the blood vessels. It also boosts immunity and prevents the oxidation of cholesterol.
Good for Diabetes
Two studies under lab conditions by the Faculty of Pharmacy, the University of Indonesia and the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa show that white tea could lower elevated blood glucose levels making it good for diabetes because it lessens the risk of insulin resistance.
Protection against Osteoporosis (bone health)
This is a condition in which the individual’s bones become porous and hollow. It also possesses compounds that could suppress bone breakdown and promote bone growth thereby lowering the risk of osteoporosis.
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White tea vs Green Tea
When you drink White tea and green tea both have a number of similar benefits to an individual’s health. However, when it comes to taster the delicate flavor of the white tea is a connoisseur’s choice
The White leaf takes on a lighter colour when brewed (noticeably light greenish or almost light golden-ish colour) and has a mellower taste. White tea leaves can be light green, white or brownish depending on the tea plant variety and region it comes from.
When brewed green tea becomes a yellowish greenish colour with a more robust taste to it. Green tea leaves are usually green in colour.
Choosing a healthy lifestyle requires choosing a healthy diet and white tea has its merits. So, why don’t you try some today!
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