Get ready for the next big thing in the tea world: white tea.
White tea has been a relative mystery outside of Asia, the fancy of occasional tea aficionados (and then perhaps only due to its smooth, delicate character). Though the Chinese have recognized the health benefits of white tea for centuries, only recently has the news spread across the globe. Just why is the popularity of white tea going to grow?
- What is white tea? Black, green and white teas all come from the same plant - Camellia sinensis (not the same as the ornamental camellias many of us have in our backyards). You might wonder how certain teas can bring greater benefit to your health. What makes some tea green, some black and some white?
The answer is the process that the tea undergoes between harvest and consumption. All of these teas are subjected to heating (for oxidase inactivation) and then drying. Some teas, like oolong and black, undergo air-withering and fermentation before heating and drying. Green tea lacks the fermentation stage, though the air-withering phase still occurs. White tea, on the other hand, undergoes neither withering nor fermentation. Its tea leaves, therefore, are the closest to their original form than any other camellia-derived tea.
White tea varieties all contain varying mixtures of tea leaves and buds, whose fuzz turns white upon drying (hence the name). They are harvested at a more formative age than other tea leaves and, when brewed, produce a pale tea.
You might enjoy the soft flavor of white tea (soft even by comparison to green tea), but the healthful properties of this tea are truly what astound.
- Cancer. Because it undergoes even less exposure to the air before steaming, white tea contains an even greater abundance of the antioxidant catechins (polyphenols) than other kinds of tea. More antioxidants make for an even more potent cancer-fighting tea.
- Boon for the immune. As powerful as green tea seems to be when it comes to fighting viruses and bacteria, research suggests that white tea might be even stronger. White tea seems to inhibit both strep and staph infections. Its antimicrobial properties compelled some toothpaste companies to actually add white tea extract to their product.
- Weight loss. Though the energy-boosting and weight-burning effects of white tea might be modest, it seems that Epichasin, which is found in white tea, has a positive effect on our energy levels and might promote modest weight loss.
Scientists are only beginning to explore the many possible health benefits of white tea - from cardiovascular to cosmetic. Studies thus far have been very promising, validating what many have already believed for years. Though the price of white tea may surprise you, the benefits might convince you to try this emerging superstar tea.