Top White Tea Benefits You Should Know About
White tea may be one of the lesser-known types of tea but that doesn't mean it isn't beneficial. There are many reasons to drink this delicate tea. White tea is packed with antioxidants, it can make you feel calm and so much more.
White tea benefits are not as well researched as the benefits of green tea or other more common tea types. However, the things that have been researched about this delicious tea make us want to reach for another cup.
White tea comes from the Camellia Sinensis plant. All tea including black and green teas come from this plant. It is the ways that the tea leaves are picked and processed that distinguish them. Between black, green and white tea, white tea is the least processed tea of all.
For white tea, young tea leaves and buds are picked from the tea plant in early Spring. At this time of year, the immature leaves have soft white hairs, which have given the tea its name. They are then quickly dried under natural sunlight, with heat vents or drying chambers to prevent oxidation. This gives the tea it's light yellow to amber hue and delicate flavour.
Further oxidation would alter the flavour, colour and strength of the tea. You can see a stark difference between teas that have been oxidised or not. For example, black tea is the most oxidised type of tea and it has a dark hue and strong taste.
White Tea Origins
Chinese folklore states that tea was accidentally discovered by Shen Ni a mythological Chinese ruler known as the "Father of Chinese medicine" about 5000 years ago. According to the story, he was travelling through rural China and wanted to stop for a drink. However, the nearby water sources were not clean for drinking. He ordered water to be boiled so he could drink it but as it boiled, some leaves from the tea plant blew into the pot. Curious, Shen Ni took a sip, delighted in the taste and tea was born.
White tea as we know it today originated from southeast China in the Fujian province and was first commercially produced in the 1700s. However, white tea has a long history in China as part of the country's traditional Imperial Tea Tribute (Gong Cha).
As far back as 700 A.D. Emperors in China required their citizens to contribute tea as a tribute to the Emperor. The tribute began as a voluntary act but during the Chinese dynasties of Tang, Song, Ming and Qing, the tribute became mandatory. There was immense pressure to prepare a tea that the ruler would like. This set the innovation of tea into motion. Farmers innovated new ways to prepare tea from powdered green tea to minimally processed white tea.
Many people state that preparation of white tea was discovered during the Song Dynasty (960-1269). However, there is some evidence to suggest people prepared it before that. What is not in question is that white tea became widely popularized within the upper echelons of society while the Song court ruled. It reached a pinnacle of reverence during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) when their court declared that only loose leaf white tea could be served as an Imperial Tribute.
Top 8 White Tea Benefits
There are many feel-good properties and health benefits of white tea. As the least processed tea, the white variety may retain more of the goodness and anti-bacterial properties from the Camellia Sinensis plant than other teas.
1. High in Antioxidants
One of the best things about white tea is that it is chock full of antioxidants. There are slightly more antioxidants in white tea than green tea. These antioxidant properties are found in plant food and go a long way in protecting your cells from free radicals. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals that enter the body through normal human processes or via external pollutants like X-Rays, cigarette smoke or air pollutants.
Free radicals have been found to contribute to chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease or cancer. Not enough research has been done to indisputably draw a link between white tea and chronic diseases. However, it has been proven that white tea has natural properties which can be beneficial in reducing toxins (free radicals) from the body.
2. Calming Effects
One of proposed health benefits of white tea is the calming effect it has on its drinkers. That's not just because it is a relaxing ritual for many of us, either. Of all true teas, white tea has the highest concentration of L-theanine. L-theanine is an amino acid that has been found to reduce acute anxiety and stress in controlled studies.
3. Improves Focus
Not only does L-theanine increase calm but studies suggest that it can also help you focus without getting drowsy. That's because the L-theanine inhibits parts of the part that are responsible for overactivity. Stress has major negative effects on the brain, without it we are able to improve our cognitive function and long-term health.
White tea also has a small amount of caffeine. At about 15 to 30 milligrams of caffeine per eight-ounce serving, the caffeine in white is much lower than green and black teas but enough to act as a stimulant in the body. Compare that to 35 to 45 milligrams in green tea and 40 to 70 milligrams in black tea and you’ll see it is a gentle stimulant.
4. Improves Digestion
For thousands of years tea has been used as a digestive aid in India and China. White tea can improve digestion by encouraging the production of good bacteria in your gut. It’s anti-inflammatory properties can calm the gut and antioxidants can reduce the production of amylase and lipase, which can often be the cause of digestive upset.
5. Supports Oral Health
It might surprise you but drinking white tea could improve your oral health. Tea catechins have been found to help avoid plaque from forming by fighting bacteria that can cause it. While the tannins and fluoride which naturally occur in white tea can be effective in fighting tooth decay.
6. May Promote Anti-Aging
Today you will be able to find many skin and beauty products which contain white tea extract. That's because free radicals can accelerate the ageing process by breaking down elastin and collagen in the skin. The antiseptic and antioxidant properties found in white tea can combat these free radicals that pop up from internal and external environmental factors. So next time you want to take a preventative measure, consider a cup of white tea.
7. Reduces Inflammation
The antioxidants in white tea can reduce inflammation by fighting free radicals that cause them. Inflammation can have dire effects on the body. For example, arthritis, heart disease and chronic illnesses are all associated with long-term inflammation. However, more research needs to be done to examine the correlation between white tea and chronic inflammation.
For short-term uses, many people also place white tea bags on their eyes to reduce puffiness and inflammation fast. It is one of the many benefits of white tea.
White tea is very hydrating. It is nearly all water after all. There is a small amount of caffeine in white tea but it is not enough to nullify the hydrating benefits of white tea.
More research needs to go into studies about white tea health benefits but from what we know right now, there is a lot of love about drinking white tea.
White Tea Taste, a Benefit? We Think So.
For many tea lovers, the taste of white tea would be considered one of the benefits of white tea. White tea is delicate and has a pale yellow colour. It has vegetal flavours and is slightly sweet with honey notes. This is a sharp contrast to the grassy flavours of green tea or the bold taste of black tea.
Since it is light and naturally sweet, white tea is not often paired with sugar or milk, like black tea. However, honey or lemon is sometimes added when drinking white tea. Our Pai Mu Tan White Tea is a white peony tea variety from the Fujian region of China which is a great introduction to high-quality, pure white tea.
The light delicate base means white tea pairs beautifully with fruit flavours. Our Apricot Peach White Tea is a great example of this. The blend is crafted with high-quality white tea and paired with sweet and juicy peach and apricot flavours.
With white tea, it is easy to over brew and burn the young leaves. Never pour boiling over the fragile white tea, as this can produce a bitter taste. Instead, heat your water to approximately 85 Fahrenheit or boil the water and wait a few minutes for it to cool. Then pour the water into your teapot and steep for 4 to 5 minutes for the perfect cup of white tea.
Types of White Tea and Their Benefits
There are four traditional types of white tea that hail from China. This includes Silver Needle White Tea (Bai Hao Yinzhen), White Peony (Bai Mu Dan or Pai Mu Tan), Tribute Eyebrow (Gong Mei) and Long Life Eyebrow (Shou Mei). For some time China was the only producer of white tea but today other national varieties can be found growing all over Asia and in Africa.
These traditional varieties share the same white tea benefits we have explored above. Health benefits don't differ like they do between black, green and white tea. That's because these white tea varieties are all processed in a similar way.
- Silver Needle White Tea (Bai Hao Yinzhen) is a premium white tea that is only made from the buds of the tea plant. The buds are very small and must be handpicked, therefore making it very time-consuming to pick enough to dry for tea. It is considered the rarest and highest grade white tea in China and it is commonly cultivated in the traditional Fujian province.
- White Peony (Bai Mu Dan or Pai Mu Tan) is another premium white tea. It contains a mix of white tea leaves and buds, however, only the top two leaves are picked from the shoots. This comes from the southeastern Jiangxi province. Like Silver Needle White tea, it has a slightly nutty and complex taste that lingers on the palate.
- Tribute Eyebrow (Gong Mei) and Long Life Eyebrow (Shou Mei) are lower grade white teas than Silver Needle and White Peony tea and harvested after them. They don't contain buds and have a slightly darker hue and bolder taste which some tea connoisseurs liken to oolong tea.
The interest in white tea has exploded over the past few years as more people learn about the many health benefits of white tea and its great taste. If you have some in your cupboard we hope you'll come together around the kettle, enjoy a cup of tea and take pleasure in a quiet moment of reflection with friends and family.
As avid tea drinkers, we drink white tea on a regular basis. It's our goal to share the ritual, health benefits and rich traditions surrounding tea. Shop our wide selection of tea today. We carry great herbal blends, white, green and black tea, accessories, gifts and more.