What is White Tea? And How does it Compare with its Black and Green Relatives?

What exactly is white tea, and how does it differ from other, more well-known tea leaves?

white tea

We all know black tea as Britain’s favourite drink, and green tea for its refreshing flavour and powerful antioxidants. But there’s a third variety of this tea family which is far more understated. White tea. But what exactly is white tea, and how does it differ from other, more popular tea leaves? Read on to find out!

 What is white tea?

 Black, green and white tea are all leaves from the same plant- Camellia Sinensis. What makes them distinct from one another is how long they are allowed to mature for on the plant, and the way in which they are processed once they are picked. White tea, which is produced almost exclusively in the Fujian province of China, is harvested earliest in the year while the leaves are still immature, unopened buds. Green tea is harvested a little later, and black tea is harvested when the leaves have reached full maturity.

 How is it processed?

 Like green tea, white tea is very minimally processed. This allows both teas to remain rich in antioxidants. However, while green tea leaves are allowed to ferment partially, no fermentation takes place when processing white tea, which leaves it with up to 3 times more antioxidants than green tea.

 What are the health benefits of drinking white tea?

 Due to its high levels of antioxidants, drinking white tea is a good way of neutralizing the harmful effects of free radicals and protecting against cancer. This also gives white tea good anti viral and antibacterial properties which help to maintain all-round good health. White tea is even more powerful at delivering these health benefits than green tea because of its higher antioxidant content.

Key health benefits of drinking white tea include:

  • Boosting cardiovascular health

  • Lowering cholesterol

  • Neutralizing free radicals and protecting against cancer

  • Assisting in weight loss

Remember to maximise the health benefits of tea by choosing organic leaves, since tea will easily absorb fluoride from pesticides and other contaminants.

 Will it keep me up at night?

 White tea is ideal for drinking at all times of the day, as it contains very little caffeine. This is due to it being picked so early in development, as well as its minimal processing. A cup of white tea contains as little as 15mg of caffeine, while green tea contains around 20mg. Your typical cup of black tea contains as much as 45mg of caffeine, making white tea a perfect alternative when looking to cut back on the drug, or looking for a relaxing evening drink.

Image sourced: WJ Houtman

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