What is white tea? What are the health benefits?
Did you know that White Tea benefits are more substantial than other Teas? You’d be forgiven if you had no idea. In fact, you’d be forgiven if you barely knew anything about this beverage at all.
This is because, in recent years, Green Tea has claimed most of the spotlight. Yet times are changing. The future is this wholesome, delicious, nutritious brew.
In this article, we will explore:
- What is White Tea?
- Is it Good For You?
- Does White Tea Have Caffeine?
- How Many Calories does it contain?
- Where To Find this type of tea?
And this is just the beginning. Let’s now step into the history, the production and, of course, the White Tea Benefits of this up-and-coming beverage. Be inspired with The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company today.
What is White Tea?
This Tea, like any ‘real’ Tea, comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. But what makes it different to its Green, Black and Oolong counterparts?
To start, harvesters select only leaves that haven’t yet fully unfurled. This is likewise when the buds are still very young. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t get its name from the light liquor it creates. Instead, it comes from the silvery pekoe (hairs or dust) that grow on the unopened buds.
The biggest difference between White Tea and other Types of Tea, however, happens in the factory. After the commonplace withering stage of the leaves, producers only allow it to oxidise for a minimal amount of time.
In fact, this oxidation period is even shorter than the production of Green Tea! But what does this mean?
The process of oxidation applies to humans and Tea alike. We experience oxidation, for example, through the transference of oxygen around the body. With Tea, it refers to the change in the structure of the leaf through this oxidation process.
Owing to its lack of oxidation, this tea is exposed to oxygen for only a short while after harvesting. This helps to maintain its most ‘natural’ structure.
The longer a Tea is left to oxidise (e.g. Black Tea), the darker it becomes. This process also changes the taste of the Tea. This type of tea, on the other hand, changes very little.
When brewed, this lack of processing creates an unmistakably delicate and fresh infusion. Most White Tea drinkers note its mild, sweet flavours with light grassy undertones. However, there is another essential factor to consider. This very same lack of processing also plays into the hands of its benefits. This is because it enables the leaf to retain the majority of its antioxidants - even more so than Green Tea!
This tea type originates from the Fuding prefecture of Fujian province, southeast China. However, its production has since spread to other regions and countries. This includes other Fujian prefectures such as Zheng He, Songxi and Jianyang. Further afield, the Indian regions of Darjeeling and Assam, for example, have started experimenting with the production of this Tea.
But it’s not as simple as differentiating between the types of White Tea by region and country. Although it doesn’t work on a grading system per se, it still helps to think of grades when it comes to the difference in quality:
Ying Zhen (Silver Needle)
If judged on a grading system, Silver Needle would be at the top. The exceptional quality of Ying Zhen cannot be overstated. This is because producers use only the very top buds (leaf shoots) of the plant.
Bai Mu Dan (White Peony)
These Teas fit somewhere in the middle between Ying Zhen and Shou Mei. Some might be of a quality closer to that of Ying Zhen. Others might resemble Shou Mei. Regardless, many consider Bai Mu Dan the ‘everyday’ White.
This type consists of upper leaf and tips, with a stronger flavour similar to that of Oolong Tea. However, because workers pluck these leaves later than Bai Mu Dan and Ying Zheng, their quality suffers.
The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company do not stock Shou Mei Tea for this reason. Quality, after all, is important to us.
But it doesn’t stop here. Within these three categories, there are numerous subcategories. For example, there are ‘middle-grade’ beverages produced using only bio-cultivation methods. In other words, Organic White Tea. This includes our very own Bai Mu Dan Organic.
Like any infusion to originate from the Camellia sinensis plant, this Tea does, indeed, contain caffeine. But what is the caffeine level?
Here is a comparison:
- On average, White Tea contains 15 to 20 mg of caffeine per cup.
- On average, Green Tea contains 30 mg of caffeine per cup.
- On average, Oolong Tea contains 45 mg of caffeine per cup.
- On average, Black Tea contains 50 mg of caffeine per cup.
- On average, Coffee contains between 65 and 150 mg of caffeine per cup.
As you can see, this brew contains the lowest amount of caffeine of any other Tea (and Coffee!). This makes it an excellent choice for those trying to cut down on their caffeine intake.
Caffeine sensitive individuals, as well as those who’re pregnant, often choose it for this reason. To find out more information, please read our blog: How Much Caffeine in Tea and Coffee?
History of White Tea
Early records suggest that a sort of ‘prototype’ Tea came into existence during the Chinese Tang Dynasty (618-906 CE). Nevertheless, most historians agree that ‘official’ White Tea wasn’t developed until the Song Dynasty (906-1127 CE). The first reference to it was in a publication entitled “Treatise on Tea”, a book written by Emperor Huizong himself!
During this period, these Teas were strictly reserved for royals and dignitaries of the Emperor’s court. According to legend, they were served only as a ‘tribute’ to the Emperor by virgins with white gloves as a symbol of honour and respect. There is no known historical evidence to support this claim. However, it certainly makes for an interesting story.
For centuries, it remained a secret of China. It wasn’t until 1876 that the first reference to it appeared in the West. And even then, this mysterious infusion was bewilderingly categorised as a Black Tea for the simple reason that it wasn’t steamed like Green Tea!
A theory to its late arrival in the West is that transporting this type of Tea was immensely difficult. The leaves spoiled easily during transit until new methods ensured its maintained quality during long journeys.
Now, we’re seeing the beginning of a brand new chapter: White Tea health benefits. The future of this beverage lies not in the pages of history books, but in the laboratories of scientific endeavour.
As a society, we’re becoming increasingly health-conscious. Chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes are on the rise. Could this tea be the answer? It’s certainly a very real possibility according to the latest research!
White Tea benefits the mind, body and soul. Perhaps most surprisingly, when it comes to the body, in particular, the health benefits of White Tea in fact surpass those of Green Tea Benefits. This is because it contains higher levels of vitamins, minerals and other antioxidants.
With many more waiting to be discovered in every cup brewed. Combined, these vitamins, minerals and other antioxidants can support healthy living in a plethora of ways. Now, let’s explore the ‘what's’ the ‘hows’ and the ‘whys’.
Its benefits start with antioxidants. These antioxidants are, very potentially, the answer to many ailments in society. The most crucial antioxidant found in White Tea is Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).
This polyphenolic antioxidant can combat free radicals in the body. These, in turn, are the product of natural, though harmful, human oxidation.
By preventing too much oxidation in Tea, you get White Tea. By preventing too much oxidation in humans, meanwhile, you reduce the risk of developing a multitude of chronic conditions.
This is because free radicals, when left unchecked, can wreak havoc on the body. These unpaired (and unsafe) electrons introduced through oxidation latch onto stable electrons, damaging them in the process. This is then repeated over and over again, spreading and spreading until it causes untold damage to our systems.
Enter this Tea. Its high levels of EGCG, even more so than Green Tea, slow down the process of oxidation. In doing this, your morning cuppa’ plays a small but significant role in preventing conditions such as cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes.
The benefits of drinking White Tea every day can even see your waistline shrink! The way this works is twofold. First, it contains no more than 2 calories per 8 oz serving.
This makes it an excellent alternative to other sugary beverages such as soft drinks. Next time you crave a cola, why not steer yourself to brew up a cup of this loose leaf tea instead?
Second, White Tea can boost the metabolism of fat cells meaning weight loss. This is according to a 2009 study published in “Nutrition and Metabolism”. This research recognised how it effectively reduces the deposition of triglycerides in human adipocytes (fat cells) and promotes the breakdown of fats. In other words, its frequent consumption enables the body to burn fat quicker and more efficiently.
The miracle of EGCG strikes again. This time, it’s helping to keep your skin appear more youthful. A recent study by BioMed Central has established that White Tea has antioxidant activity that directly affects the overall health and appearance of your skin. Researchers with this study looked specifically at the effects on structural proteins found in the skin called elastin and collagen.
Elastin maintains the elasticity of the skin and helps in wound repair. Collagen is a protein found in connective tissue; it supports the skin’s strength as well as its elasticity. The breakdown of these two proteins can lead to age-related wrinkles and sagging skin. The research reads:
“White tea whole extract exhibits comparable anti-elastase activity to EGCG alongside very high collagenase [enzymes that break the peptide bonds in collagen] inhibition at a very small final concentration of 25 μg which suggests additive or synergistic activity between the catechins within the tea extract, particularly in the case of collagenase inhibition.
Also, as collagenase is a zinc-containing metalloproteinase, the catechins within the tea extract which are known to be metal chelators may bind to the Zn2+ ion within the enzyme thus preventing it from binding with the substrate”.
That’s a lot to take in. Let’s (ironically) break this down. The researchers essentially discovered that White Tea helped to prevent the breakdown of elastin and collagen. This, in turn, meant stronger, better skin. So, before you buy that tub of £90 face cream, why not try White Tea first?
Reduced Risk of Type-2 Diabetes
As we’ve already mentioned, the antioxidants in this Tea can combat free radicals. This, in turn, slows down the process of oxidation. And this, in turn, ultimately helps in the fight against diabetes. However, this isn’t the only way it can help.
Human trials conducted in a Chinese study showed that White Tea could significantly benefit diabetes patients thanks to its capacity to balance blood sugar levels. Another study conducted on diabetes-induced rats showed that it reduced some symptoms associated with the condition. There is also another slightly more obscure way that it can fight diabetes. Specifically, this refers to avoiding developing diabetes in the first place!
Widespread research suggests that chronic stress disrupts sleep and blood sugar levels. This leads to increased hunger and comfort eating. But this, of course, can later cause even more stress when you get on the scales or try to put on your favourite pair of trousers. This, in turn, causes even higher levels of stress and even more disrupted blood sugar levels. In time, this cruel circle not only causes unhealthy levels of body fat but also increases the risk of type-2 diabetes.
Stop stress at the source. Try to take time out of your busy life, make yourself comfortable on the sofa, and relax with a cuppa’! Tea, regardless of the type, can have a calming effect on the mind and body. This is because it contains l-theanine, an amino acid that can reduce minor anxiety.
Where to Find White Tea
The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company are proud of every White Tea we stock. And we stock many. It’s important to note that quality comes first with us.
That means we pack every Loose Tea and Coffee fresh to order. This ensures not only quality but also consistency. So, which White Tea will you choose? Here are some of our favourites:
White Tea Bags
This infusion is, put simply, harmony in a cup. Every sip evokes captivating images of all things delicate. Best of all, it comes in convenient Tea Bag form.
This is the perfect choice for those who’re in a rush. It suits the ‘I-just-don’t-have-the-time’rs and the ‘if-only-there-were-more-hours-in-the-day’ers’’ perfectly.
Waste not a moment longer than you need to with our White Tea Bags, brew up on the go!
This is perhaps the most famous of them all. It consists of unopened Tea buds and the two newest leaves to sprout from the plant.
Despite its recognition, White Peony Tea only came into existence in 1922. Since then, however, the Tea Industry has fallen in love with this outstanding beverage. We hope that you do, too.
Pai Mu Tan
This is one of the finest quality Fujian-grown Teas available, period. Some connoisseurs might even argue that its quality is equal to that of Silver Needle Tea.
Why not decide for yourself with our Pai Mu Tan today? Upon the first sip, expect light and refreshing grassy notes that indeed linger on the palate long after you’ve drained your cup.
Such is its remarkable taste that you’ll be wanting to brew another cup in no time at all.
Combining our delicious Pai Mu Tan with ingredients such as pomegranates, cranberries and rose petals creates our Pomegranate White Tea.
This sweet, floral infusion is a great choice to begin the day. It is smooth, delicate, and absolutely scrumptious from start to finish. Arguably better still, the addition of rose petals, in particular, only adds to the White Tea benefits.
They are a great source of Vitamin C and can even provide relief from menstrual discomfort.
White Kenya Matcha Tea
Matchas use the whole leaf as opposed to only parts. This ensures that nearly 100% of its antioxidants make it from plant to cup. According to statistics, the antioxidant strength of Matcha Green Tea is reportedly 137 times more than that of standard Green Tea!
Just imagine how much more could be found in a cup of White Kenya Matcha Tea!
Whichever one you eventually decide on, you’ve decided well with The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company.