Why you should say hello to white tea.
White tea was discovered as an accident some 5,000 years ago in China. What is it and what are its health benefits?
Most people are familiar with the classic true teas such as green, black and oolong, but there’s actually a fourth true tea that recently gained popularity and scientific acclaim. White tea first emerged in Asia and achieved popularity in the West only in the last 200 years or so.
White tea was discovered as an accident some 5,000 years ago in China. It so happened that while traveling along the countryside, the emperor Shen Nung suddenly felt thirsty, and was provided with boiled water. Unfortunately (or rather, fortunately), some leaves of white tea flew and fell into the pot of water, giving it a distinct and likable flavor. The emperor took an instant liking to this particular drink and asked the inhabitants to search for the origin of this particular leaf. And thus, our special white tea was born!
White tea is one of the most delicate tea varieties. This is because it is so minimally processed. White tea is harvested before the tea plant’s leaves open fully when the young buds are still covered by fine white hairs, hence the name “white” tea. In spite of its name, brewed white tea is pale yellow.
These buds and unfurled leaves from the newest growth on the tea plant are handpicked and then quickly and meticulously dried, so the leaves are not allowed to oxidize as long as leaves plucked for green or black tea production. This minimal processing and low oxidation results in some of the most delicate and freshest tea available.
White tea is grown and harvested primarily in China, mostly in the Fujian province, but more recently produced in Eastern Nepal, Taiwan, Thailand, Galle (Southern Sri Lanka) and northeast India. Now that we have a basic idea of what white tea is, let’s look into its main benefits
Health Benefits of White Tea
White tea contains a high amount of antioxidants, polyphenols, flavonoids, and tannins. These ingredients have a positive effect on our health and well being.
White tea has been shown to protect the body against certain diseases and reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disorders. It also provides natural antibacterial properties, helps with weight loss, and can lower bad cholesterol.
Because of the high percentage of antioxidant properties, white tea can also help to repair and maintain your skin and protect the skin against the effects of ultraviolet light.
Since the colour of white tea is a lot lighter than black tea and green tea, it won’t stain your teeth. Even better, it has been proven that white tea can help to reduce the risk of dental decay or cavities.
White tea may also provide some kind of relief from diabetic symptoms and decrease your plasma glucose levels and increase insulin secretion.
Not only is white tea good for skin, it can also help establish healthy hair. The antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate has been shown to enhance hair growth and prevent premature hair loss. White tea can also restore hair’s natural shine and is best be used topically as a shampoo if you’re looking to capitalize on shine.
White tea has the highest concentration of L-theanine amongst the true teas. L-theanine is known for improving alertness and focus in the brain by inhibiting exciting stimuli that can lead to overactivity. By calming the stimuli in the brain, white tea can help you relax while also increasing focus.
How To Brew White Tea
Step 1: Prepare the Leaves
For a tea made from buds: Use 2 teaspoons of tea for every 6 ounces of water
For a tea made from leaves: Use 2 tablespoons of tea for every 6 ounces of water
For a tea made from both buds and leaves (like White Peony): Use about 1 tablespoon of tea for every 6 ounces of water
Step 2: Boil the Water
For white tea, boil water to 170 F. (about 75 degrees centigrade)
As with most teas, using pure, filtered water will result in better-tasting and more flavorful teas. You can use any type of water from tap to bottled or filtered, but avoid using distilled water since it can taste flat.
Step 3: Steep
Infuse for 30 seconds to 5 minutes depending on the type of tea and your personal taste preferences.
Buds take longer to steep than large leaves and small leaves steep the fastest. Taste the tea every 30 seconds to ensure proper flavor as over-steeping can lead to bitter flavors.
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