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9 Health Benefits of White Tea & 4 Tips for Serving

Among all the green, oolong, black, red, and other popular tea choices, there’s the underrated white tea variety. In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about white tea, including white tea benefits, potential side effects, and preparation techniques to get the most out of this drink.

What distinguishes this particular tea from its counterparts is its delicate flavor and appearance. With as little processing and additives as possible, you get a drink fit for ancient Chinese emperors.

Black and green teas often take over most of the tea market, while white tea is often left overshadowed. Nevertheless, this tea deserves the same limelight for its soft hue and silky taste. On top of that, this tea gives its drinker many health benefits, from immunity boosting to blood sugar level regulation.

What White Tea Is: Interesting Facts

What White Tea Is: Interesting Facts

White tea is one of the least processed types of tea in the market. It’s named after the white hairs of its plant’s growing leaves. The extra white fuzz is meant to protect the plant from insects.

Interestingly, harvesters collect the tea during its early growth stages. During this stage, the tea will mostly consist of new buds and leaves.

This early harvest gives the tea its exceptionally delicate flavor. Plus, it offers the freshest results compared to other refined varieties.

Origin and Where White Tea Comes From

Origin and Where White Tea Comes From

White tea originates from the same plant as oolong, black, and green teas.

The tea plant, scientifically known as Camellia sinensis, is native to Southeast Asia in countries like Myanmar, northern India, Cambodia, and southern China.

White tea, in particular, is harvested in the Fujian province, situated in China. Tea cultivators typically harvest the young leaves between mid-March and early April.

History of White Tea

History of White Tea

White tea’s history dates as far back as the early Chinese imperial dynasty eras. Historians speculate that it originated during the Song dynasty between 920 and 1269.

Nonetheless, some traces of the herbal drink were found in earlier periods, like the Tang dynasty, dating between 618 and 907.

During that time, tea was highly customary in Chinese culture. Emperors expected their citizens to pay them in the form of tea.

Citizens also had to contribute a certain percentage of tea production to royalty.

Besides the tea grown by peasants at the time, emperors also had private imperial tea gardens. These tea plants were of higher quality and some of the finest cultivation. Poets described these royal-grown teas as “white like clouds” and “pure like snow.”

Back then, tea cultivation was more akin to fine art compared to today’s commercialized productions. After being hand-plucked during early spring, imperial harvesters flawlessly removed and steamed the white tea leaves’ outer layer while cleansing it with pure spring water.

The leaves are then left to air-dry before being crushed into a fine white powder. The fine, silvery granules are carefully mixed with hot water to create a beverage only fit for the emperor.

What White Tea Is Made Of

What White Tea Is Made Of

White tea is made up of young leaves and buds of the same plant as black and green tea varieties. What differentiates it from other teas is the oxidation process.

While most tea types come from the same evergreen bush, the processing varies.

Once cultivators collect the tea leaves, the amount of time they leave them out to oxidize, or become exposed to oxygen, dictates the tea type.

Longer oxidation times usually result in stronger flavors and darker hues.

Tea productions sometimes speed up the oxidation process by crushing and rolling the leaves. Likewise, they can slow the process through other methods like steaming and firing the leaves.

In the case of making white tea, most of that doesn’t happen, since it’s the least oxidized and processed variety.

Instead, it’s left to air dry in a temperature-controlled room for about 72 hours after getting hand-picked.

Some companies apply slight heat to the air-dried results to stop oxidation. They can do so through a traditional charcoal heating method, where the tea leaves are laid out in a bamboo container over a charcoal oven.

Besides slowing the oxidation process, the heat also produces a more refined aroma and fragrance.

What White Tea Tastes Like

Health Benefits of White Tea

As one of the most delicate herbal drinks, white tea offers a slightly floral and fruity flavor. After a sip, you’ll notice hints of peach, honey, and apricot.

You may also taste and relish the subtle citrus and chocolate flavors infused in the tea.

Because of its light essence, it has a plethora of drink fusion opportunities.

From a spicy ginger pairing to a more refreshing lemon infusion, you can create various flavorful cocktails with the help of white tea extract.

Mixes aside, you’ll also want to consider the variety of white teas available in the market. For example, Silver Needle white tea carries light floral, grassy, hay, and oat-like flavor notes.

Meanwhile, other types, like White Peony tea, offer a more concentrated sip, giving you a nuttier and smokier aroma.

Does White Tea Have Caffeine?

Does White Tea Have Caffeine?

White tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, which does contain caffeine. Even though the native Asian evergreen does have trace amounts of caffeine, it differs in amount based on its production.

For instance, the Fujian-grown variety tends to have low caffeine levels since it has a short brewing time and isn’t oxidized.

Its caffeine content can reach as low as six milligrams. To put that into perspective, one cup of black tea contains a much higher 47.4 milligrams of caffeine.

Now, white tea isn’t always necessarily a low-caffeine drink. Some varieties, particularly those grown in Darjeeling, India, have higher caffeine contents, sometimes reaching 75 milligrams per cup.

Besides that, other factors affect white tea’s caffeine levels, such as the number of leaf tips the tea contains. Leaf tips often hold the highest caffeine concentration to ward off insects.

Another factor to consider is whether the tea is loose or bagged. The latter usually has higher caffeine levels since it’s ground, making it more oxidized.

Nutritional Facts and Calories of White Tea

Nutritional Facts and Calories of White Tea

White tea typically doesn’t contain any calories. Unless you’ve added some sort of sweetener, the drink has zero sugars, proteins, fats, and fiber.

In terms of nutritional content, white tea is high in antioxidants.

These can include compounds like tannins, polyphenols, and flavonoids, all of which offer health benefits.

In addition, white tea also has trace amounts of vitamins and minerals, like magnesium, potassium, manganese, calcium, and vitamins K and C.

Health Benefits of White Tea

Health Benefits of White Tea

On top of the calming and exquisite taste of white tea, you can also reap lots of health benefits from it. Here are some below.

Enhances Skin Health

Enhances Skin Health

According to research studies, white tea provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, ideal for skin health. These properties are essential for protecting your skin from UV rays.

Additionally, the polyphenols in the tea can help slow your skin’s aging. How?

Well, scientists believe the compounds of the herbal beverage help inhibit the cell parts responsible for damage to your skin, allowing it to remain firm.

Decreases Insulin Resistance

Decreases Insulin Resistance

Insulin is a critical hormone naturally found in your body that helps transport nutrients across your body while maintaining your blood sugar levels.

Some people’s bodies don’t respond well to insulin due to several factors, such as high sugar consumption or inheritance.

Here’s where white tea can come in to help. Its antioxidants, polyphenols to be exact, can decrease the risk of developing insulin resistance.

While these studies show some promise, they’re still animal-based. Consequently, more human trials are needed to support this benefit’s argument.

Combats Cancer Cells

Combats Cancer Cells

Scientists tested white tea extract against lung and colon cancer cells, and the results were encouraging.

For context, these were test-tube studies. The drink’s antioxidants have shown cancer cell-fighting ability.

In terms of lung cancer, white tea’s compounds were able to kill off the harmful cells. As for colon cancer, the tea’s antioxidants stunted the damaging cells’ growth, stopping its spread.

While these results show some promise, more human applications are necessary to provide better insight into white tea’s effects on cancer cells.

Lowers Osteoporosis Risk

Lowers Osteoporosis Risk

Osteoporosis is a disease that targets your bone health. It results in bone mineral depletion that leaves some parts of your bones hollow and porous.

Issues like chronic inflammation and free radical development can lead to osteoporosis.

That said, white tea contains catechins chemicals that work against these concerns.

Like with cancer cells, the compound works by suppressing the cells damaging your body. The chemical component is highly abundant in white tea.

Promotes Oral Hygiene

Promotes Oral Hygiene

Teas are often beneficial when it comes to oral hygiene maintenance. White tea is no different since it contains fluoride, tannins, and catechins, all of which work against cavity and bacterial growth. Here’s how:

  • Fluoride: The compound strengthens your teeth by inhibiting acid-producing bacteria development. It also reinforces your teeth’s outer layer or enamel.
  • Tannins: They effectively fight off decay by binding to plaque-forming bacteria. At the same time, tannins also cause tooth staining since they stick to your tooth enamel.
  • Catechins: These chemicals suppress acid production, preventing dental plaque.

Encourages Weight Loss

Encourages Weight Loss

Tea is often associated with weight loss efforts, whether it’s green tea for its fat-burning ability or oolong for its detoxing quality.

White tea provides herbal drinkers with similar benefits. The tea contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and catechins, which are weight-loss helpers.

The compounds stimulate fat breakdown and boost metabolism, allowing you to shed pounds more easily.

Some research suggests that white tea can increase your metabolic rate by 4 to 5%. Despite all this, you can’t primarily rely on white tea for your weight loss journey, since proper diet and exercise still come first.

Alleviates Heart Disease Risk

Alleviates Heart Disease Risk

The polyphenols in white tea can help you reduce your risk of contracting heart disease. The antioxidant enhances immunity while also relaxing your blood vessels.

White tea has also shown signs of preventing unwanted cholesterol from being oxidized.

Reduces Risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Diseases

Reduces Risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Diseases

Some of the risk factors often associated with brain-linked diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are clustered proteins.

These misshapen compounds can cause inflammation and damage your brain’s nervous system.

Now, the polyphenol EGCG present in white tea can help prevent the proteins from clumping in the first place by inhibiting free radicals.

Treats Headaches and Migraines

Treats Headaches and Migraines

In addition to reducing several disease risks, white tea is also an ideal treatment to alleviate those jabbing headaches and migraines.

A sip of the herbal drink can calm your nerves and release tension from your muscles.

Plus, teas originating from the Camellia sinensis plant, which includes white tea, work synergistically with over-the-counter pain medication to treat headaches.

Potential Risks

Potential Risks

While white tea provides multiple health benefits, you’ll also want to consider the potential risks associated with the beverage.

Some of these risks apply more to people with certain conditions as well, whether you’re anemic, breastfeeding, or suffer from neurasthenia.

Liver Complications

Liver Complications

White tea consumption in controlled amounts won’t pose a significant risk to your liver health. On the contrary, it might even promote a healthier organ because of the high antioxidant levels present in it.

Nevertheless, if you’re already dealing with liver disease, drinking the tea can exacerbate your system.

White tea still contains a trace amount of caffeine, which needs to be metabolized by your liver.

Patients with liver disease who drink excessive caffeine can stress the metabolic pressure in their liver.

Kidney Complications

Kidney Complications

Your kidneys and tea have a complicated relationship. While white tea can clean environmental pollutants in your system and reduce renal failure risk, it can also cause adverse reactions to your urinary organs.

Drinking the light tea in high amounts can lead to kidney stones due to the oxalic acid content.

For this reason, you’ll want to limit your white tea consumption to two to three cups per day at most. Try to steer clear of the drink on an empty stomach.

We also highly suggest you avoid adding milk to the tea because the calcium in it tends to bind with the oxalic acid compound to create kidney stones.

Too Much Caffeine Consumption

Too Much Caffeine Consumption

Even though white tea has one of the lowest caffeine content of other teas from the same plant, you can still risk caffeine overload from having too many cups.

Plus, some white tea varieties tend to carry higher caffeine content than others. One of the risk factors of overconsumption can highly affect those suffering from a fever, insomnia, and anxiety.

In case of a fever, caffeine usually spikes your blood temperature, worsening your symptoms. Additionally, drinking white tea after taking your medicine can reduce its efficacy.

As for insomnia and anxiety, sipping on the hot beverage a few minutes before bedtime can leave you restless and overstimulate your nervous system, both of which you don’t want for a good night’s rest.

Note also that as someone who’s drinking white tea for an energy boost, it might not be as effective in the long run. You’ll gradually build tolerance from over-consuming the drink and develop symptoms, such as jitteriness and irritability.

Excessive Tannins Content

Excessive Tannins Content

One of the several antioxidants infused in white tea is tannins. While it offers multiple benefits, such as promoting oral health, too much of it can cause nausea, vomiting, and stomach irritation.

Over-consuming this compound can especially affect anemic people.

When tannic acid binds to iron, it becomes insoluble. Consequently, your body will have a harder time trying to absorb the much-needed iron intake.

The good news is that these symptoms tend to go away once you become accustomed to drinking white tea.

Is White Tea in Pregnancy Good For You?

Is White Tea in Pregnancy Good For You?

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you’ll want to lay off white tea. The prime reason involves its caffeine content. Even though it boasts a low caffeine content, it still contains a trace amount of it, which can affect your pregnancy.

When you’re breastfeeding, the additional caffeine intake can influence your baby’s sleep quality, leading to more late-night crying and restlessness.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t drink white tea at all. Just limit your consumption to one cup per day to retain some of the beverage’s benefits.

How to Make White Tea: A Simple Guide

How to Make White Tea: A Simple Guide

Since white teas come in various types, it’s best to ask your tea vendor for the ideal brewing time. Other than that, here are some general instructions to get you started.

Step 1: Prepare the Tea

Step 1: Prepare the Tea

You’ll want to start by buying your choice of white tea. Try to find a reputable seller that can source the Chinese-origin variety, like White Peony or Silver Needle.

You can find them sold as whole tea leaves or in tea bags. The prior will usually offer the most refined taste.

In terms of quantity, you can use about a couple of grams of loose white tea leaves for an eight-ounce serving.

Meanwhile, if your white tea comprises compact buds, add a teaspoon per serving. As for lightweight leaves variety, a tablespoon per serving will suffice.

Step 2: Boil and Steep Tea

Step 2: Boil and Steep Tea

Start your brewing process by pouring pure, cold, and filtered water into your kettle. Spring water is your best bet to capture the delicate flavors of white tea.

When it comes to brewing time, the Chinese-native herbal drink doesn’t require much.

You can steep it at 175 to 190℉ for about two to five minutes, depending on the variety you choose.

More delicate options should be given less steeping time, reaching about two minutes at most.

Now, your water shouldn’t be too active since its boiling point is 212℉. Instead, it should just be hot rather than simmering. If you brew it for too long, you’ll risk getting an overly astringent or bitter flavor.

Step 3: Flavor to Your Liking

Step 3: Flavor to Your Liking

Most white tea drinkers usually avoid adding sugars, milk, or other components to their drink. It’s already so delicate that additional flavors might overpower the fruity aroma of it.

Nonetheless, you might prefer to sweeten the drink, whether it’s with a tablespoon of honey or sugar.

You could also create a refreshing, zesty cocktail mix with your white tea by infusing fruit syrups, a few sprigs of basil and mint, or some dried spice.

Tips for Drinking and Serving White Tea

Tips for Drinking and Serving White Tea

You could be a novice tea drinker or simply want to elevate your tea-drinking experience. Either way, check out the following tips for drinking and serving white tea.

How to Store White Tea

How to Store White Tea

After purchasing your white tea, you’ll want to keep it in an airtight container, preferably in a cool, dry, and dark place. Don’t place it in the fridge. Additionally, avoid putting it next to your coffee and spices.

Otherwise, the white tea leaves could easily suck in their aromas and flavors.

When to Drink White Tea

When to Drink White Tea

The best time you can drink white tea is in the morning. It’ll give you the perfect energy boost to kickstart your day without causing any jitteriness like a cup of coffee would.

You can also benefit from a cup of white tea in between meals, like during the afternoon, to keep you satiated after lunch.

That said, don’t drink it while eating since it can hamper your nutrient absorption, especially your iron levels. Allow at least a one-hour window between meals to drink the tea.

Besides that, try to keep tea drinking at night to a minimum.

Buying White Tea

Buying White Tea

When buying white tea, you’ll want to ensure you don’t get too much. It won’t necessarily go bad, but over time, it’ll gradually lose its delicate flavor and turn stale.

For this reason, we suggest purchasing enough to last you a month or so to enjoy the freshest flavor.

Infusing Flavors

Infusing Flavors

When preparing a white tea cocktail, there are a number of herbs you can mix in that’ll elevate your flavors. Greens like parsley, thyme, basil, and mint will perfectly complement the tea’s delicate aroma.

Alternatively, you can infuse fresh, fruity flavors, like pears, raspberries, and peaches.

When blended, you’ll be sipping on the freshest tea smoothie you’ve ever tasted. Now, if you prefer a little more punch and heat in your tea, spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger work exceptionally well.

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