White tea, which comes from the Camellia sinensis (or tea) plant, is the least processed type of tea, as well as the most delicate in flavor. It’s produced by picking the buds and leaves of the tea plant before they’re fully open. White tea gets its name from the fact that the buds have tiny white hairs on them at the time of picking.
As with other types of tea, the history of white tea dates back thousands of years. During the Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE), it was a luxury item, given as a form of tribute to the emperor of China. Today, there are several varieties of white tea, including silver needle, white peony, Ceylon white, Darjeeling white, and white pu-erh.
People in China have used white tea for centuries for medicinal purposes. It’s full of antioxidants that may provide many potential health benefits. There is research to back up some of the traditional medicine health claims about white tea, but more is needed.
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 is a true tea and the least processed, making it a delicate tea that packs a punch when it comes to health benefits. White tea benefits include preventing tooth decay, promoting healthy skin and hair and increased energy and alertness. Drinking a cup a day can help prevent things like the common cold and eliminate free radicals that can cause an array of ailments from acne to cancer.
Types of White TeaThere are two main types of white tea: Silver Needle and White Peony. However, there are several other white teas including Long Life Eyebrow and Tribute Eyebrow along with artisanal white teas such as Ceylon White, African White and Darjeeling White. Silver Needle and White Peony are considered to be the most superior when it comes to quality.
Silver Needle (Bai Hao Yinzhen)The Silver Needle variety is the most delicate and fine white tea. It consists of only silver-colored buds about 30 mm in length and offers light, sweet flavor. The tea is made using only young leaves from the tea plant. Silver Needle white tea has a golden flush, floral aroma and a woodsy body.
White Peony (Bai Mu Dan)hite Peony is the second highest quality white tea and has a mixture of buds and leaves. In general, White Peony is made using the top two leaves. White Peony teas have a stronger taste profile than the Silver Needle type. Complex flavors blend flowery notes with a full-bodied feel and a slightly nutty finish. This white tea is also considered a good budget buy in comparison to Silver Needle as it is cheaper and still offers a fresh, robust flavor. White Peony tea is more pale green and gold than it’s pricier alternative.
Properties of White TeaA little more on those polyphenols, since they’re so important. Many compounds occur naturally in the Camellia sinensis leaf, including caffeine, amino acids (such as L-theanine) and polyphenols. Catechins are a group of these polyphenols, and include individually beneficial compounds, such as epigallocatechin (stay with us!). These natural chemicals can act as antioxidant agents in the body4, key to the wonderful properties of tea. As the least processed of the teas, white tea is said to boast the highest concentration of these natural compounds.
Benefits of Drinking White Tea
Studies have shown the strong connection between true teas and the potential for preventing or treating cancer. While studies are not conclusive, the health benefits of drinking white tea are largely attributed to the antioxidants and polyphenols on tea. Antioxidants in white tea can help build RNA and prevent the mutation of genetic cells that leads to cancer.
A study in 2010 found that antioxidants in white tea were more effective in preventing cancer than green tea. Researchers used white tea extract to target lung cancer cells in the lab and results demonstrated dose-dependent cell death. While studies are ongoing, these results show that white tea may help stop the proliferation of cancer cells and even contribute to the death of mutated cells
For many people, losing weight goes beyond just making a New Year’s resolution; it’s a real struggle to shed pounds and live longer and healthier. Obesity is one of the leading contributors to a shorter life span and losing weight is increasingly at the top of people’s priorities.
Drinking white tea can help you achieve your weight loss goals by helping your body absorb nutrients more efficiently and shed pounds more easily by speeding up metabolism. A 2009 German study found that white tea can help burn stored body fat while also preventing the formation of new fat cells. Catechins found in white tea can also speed up digestive processes and help with weight loss
Many people struggle with skin irregularities such as acne, blemishes and discoloration. While most of these skin conditions are not dangerous or life threatening, they’re still annoying and can lower confidence. White tea can help you achieve an even complexion thanks to antiseptic and antioxidant properties.
A study by the Kinsington University in London showed that white tea can protect skin cells from damage induced by hydrogen peroxide and other factors. Antioxidant-rich white tea also helps eliminate free radicals that can lead to signs of premature aging including pigmentation and wrinkles. The anti-inflammatory properties of white tea antioxidants can also help to reduce redness and inflammation caused by skin diseases such as eczema or dandruff.
Since acne is often caused by pollution and free radical build-up, drinking a cup of white tea once or twice daily can clear up skin. Alternatively, white tea can be used as a cleansing wash directly on the skin. You can also place a white tea bag directly on any trouble spots to speed up healing.
A 2005 study by Pastore Formulations showed that white tea can be beneficial for people who suffer from skin conditions including rosacea and psoriasis. This can be contributed to the epigallocatechin gallate present in white tea which helps produce new cells in the epidermis.
White tea contains high amounts of phenols, which can strengthen both collagen and elastin lending a smoother, more youthful appearance to skin. These two proteins are vital in creating strong skin and preventing wrinkles and can be found in a variety of skincare products.
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. EGCG has also shown promise when treating scalp skin diseases caused by bacteria that is resistant to common treatments.
White tea also naturally protects against sun damage, which can help keep hair from drying out in summer months. White tea can 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 high levels of flavonoids, tannins and fluorides that help teeth stay healthy and strong. Fluoride is popularly known as a tool in preventing tooth decay and is often found in toothpastes. Both tannins and flavonoids help to prevent the buildup of plaque that can cause tooth decay and cavities.
White tea also boasts antiviral and antibacterial properties that help keep teeth and gums healthy. To get the tooth health benefits of white tea, aim to drink two to four cups per day and re-steep tea bags to extract all of the nutrients and antioxidants.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has several great health benefits that can reduce symptoms of dry scalp. It’s an antimicrobial, which means it can eliminate the bacteria or fungi that could be causing itchiness. It’s also anti-inflammatory and can help exfoliate your scalp, both of which can help treat dry scalp itself.
How to use: Mix one part apple cider vinegar with two parts water, and apply it directly to the scalp. Let it sit for five minutes before washing it out with a gentle shampoo and conditioning your hair like normal.
MIMI (Multi ion mask insert)
- Can be worn with any facemask and provides additional heavy-duty protection.
- Adult & Youth Sizes Available
Help Treat Diabetes
Diabetes is caused by genetic and lifestyle factors and is an increasing problem in the modern world. Fortunately, there are many ways to regulate and control diabetes and white tea is one of them.
Catechins in white tea along with other antioxidants have been shown to help prevent or regulate Type 2 diabetes. White tea effectively acts to inhibit the activity of the enzyme amylase that signals glucose absorption in the small intestine.
In people with Type 2 diabetes, this enzyme breaks down starches into sugars and can lead to blood sugar spikes. Drinking white tea can help regulate those spikes by blocking the production of amylase.
In a 2011 Chinese study, scientists found that regular consumption of white tea lowered blood glucose levels by 48 percent and increased insulin secretion. The study also showed that drinking white tea helped to alleviate polydipsia, which is a severe thirst caused by diseases such as diabetes.
The catechins and polyphenols in white tea boast anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve minor aches and pains. A Japanese animal study published in the MSSE Journal showed that catechins found in white tea aided in quicker muscle recovery and less muscle damage.
White tea also improves circulation and delivers oxygen to the brain and organs. Because of this, white tea is effective in treating minor headaches and aches and pains from working out.
Having a healthy heart means living a longer and fuller life. With everything from diet and smoking to environmental factors contributing to heart health, it’s important to take steps to prevent against chronic diseases. White tea helps protect healthy heart function and prevent illnesses including blood clots, stroke and heart attacks.
Since white tea is the least processed of true teas, it also contains the most antioxidants. Catechins in white tea may help lower blood pressure, improve circulation and lower the risk of heart disease. Antioxidants in white tea have also been shown to lower cholesterol levels, especially bad LDL cholesterol.
Improved Brain HealthTest tube studies show that certain compounds in white tea may help to lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases by preventing proteins from clumping together. Several studies link drinking tea with a lower risk of both diseases.
Potential Risks of White Tea
White tea is generally considered safe to drink. There are, however a few risks to keep in mind:
Insomnia and Anxiety
Contrary to popular belief, white tea does contain caffeine. The amount of caffeine varies based on factors such as type of tea, brewing time, and water temperature. Caffeine, especially in large amounts, may affect sleep or lead to anxiety and restlessness.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Concerns
Some brands of white teas (and other types of teas) sold in tea bags may contain lead. Studies have shown that some teas sold in stores have levels that are unsafe for drinking during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
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.
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.
The Bottom Line
White tea is packed with antioxidants, which makes it an incredibly healthy tea.
Studies have linked white tea and its components to a variety of impressive health benefits, including a lower risk of heart disease and cancer. It may also help you lose weight.
Sadly, white tea has not been studied as much as other teas, like green tea, because it’s not as popular. More human studies on white tea would help clarify its health benefits.
All told, white tea is a great addition to your diet and it is easy to prepare. It has a subtle yet refreshing taste and can be enjoyed both hot and as a cold brew.