8 Health Benefits of White Tea
White tea was a prized beverage as far back as the Tang Dynasty, where it was known as the “Emperor’s Drink.” By the 19th century, the tea was being cultivated, and new varieties were being developed. The health benefits of white tea were a dark secret until it arrived on the scene in North America. It is well on the way to becoming the number one tea of the 21st century.
Varieties of Tea
All teas originate from the Camilla Sinensis (tea bush). What makes each variety different is the time it is picked and how it is treated. Here is what makes each one different:
- Black tea – The rich taste and dark color takes place during fermentation, by exposing the crushed leaves to the air for a specific time.
- Green tea – This tea is never fermented. The leaves are allowed to wither in very warm air, after which it is either pan-fried or steamed, and then rolled. One final heating locks in the tea’s flavors, leaving its mellow taste.
- Oolong tea – Partial fermentation puts this tea smack in the middle, with a mild, flowery taste and a reddish color.
- White tea – The tea leaves are not allowed to fully mature, and are picked before the buds have opened. The silvery, whitish fuzz on the buds gives this tea its name. Different mixtures of buds and leaves determine the variety of white tea. In this case, the unwithered leaves are steamed fresh, with no drying or fermentation.
Many people prefer white tea to green tea because it does not have that aftertaste that reminds you of grass. Not only does it have a milder, sweet taste, but, because of the way it is processed it maintains its high level of polyphenols…which kill cancer cells. There are many other benefits as well.
In the year 2004, Pace University conducted a study that showed that white tea aids in destroying harmful bacteria and viruses. They also concluded that, because the tea is rich in fluorides, it also fights tooth decay by preventing plaque. There are many other benefits to drinking white tea:
- There is very little caffeine in this beverage, containing about 1% as compared to coffee.
- The taste and color are light and delicate.
- It has been proven to be a great source of antioxidants. These nutrients fight the free radicals and neutralize them. The flavonoids stop cancer cells from growing, and prevent new cells. It appears to be particularly effective in fighting cancers of the stomach, colon, and prostate.
- The tea has shown the ability to lower cholesterol, simultaneously increasing the good cholesterol while lowering the bad, and aiding in preventing hardening of the arteries.
- It hydrates the body and aids in detoxing.
- The tea appears to be good for your complexion and seems to promote healthy skin.
- By thinning the blood, white tea aids in lowering blood pressure, thus helping to prevent stroke.
- In addition to helping to prevent tooth decay, and improving bad breath, white tea seems to increase bone strength and density. It may even be beneficial for fighting arthritis and osteoporosis… though this has not yet been proven.
There are other benefits attributed to drinking white tea that have not been concretely proven, but it appears to help diabetics to control their blood sugar, thus decreasing symptoms, and easing stress while increasing energy levels. It is also believed to aid in weight loss by increasing the metabolism. However, as in all weight loss programs, proper diet, plenty of water, and regular exercise must be part of the picture.
Which White Tea is the Best
The downside of switching to white tea is the cost factor and availability. You will find these teas in up-scale tea shops, but not in most of your restaurants or coffee shops. It isn’t easily found in your local grocery store, either. But it is easily available online, along with descriptions of the various varieties.
Many white tea drinkers feel that Silver Needle tea is by far the best. The flavor comes from handpicking the tea buds at precisely the right time (only two days out of an entire year); and the minimal processing helps it to retain its flavor, aroma, and benefits. This amazing tea can be re-infused two or three times, which helps to offset the cost.
Enjoy additional benefits by grinding it up, mixing it with honey, and using it as a facial treatment. You can even add it to your bath water, to revitalize your skin. For a variety of taste treats, try mixing it with other scented and flavored teas. By doing this, you get more variety of flavor while still enjoying the benefits provided by the white tea.
The health benefits of white tea, as well as the aroma and taste, far outweigh the cost and the inconvenience of not being able to buy them in every grocery store. All teas are good for you, but the white teas, because they require so little processing and handling, maintain the highest benefits of them all. And the more popular they become, the easier they will be to find.