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What is White tea good for? Your complete guide to White tea

White teas unfold in nuanced flavours that are the most delicate, sweet and gentle. They simply delight the senses. They are softer and smoother than any other true teas (like Green tea, Oolong tea, Pu-erh tea, and Black tea.

But, do you know what makes White tea so different from all the other types of tea? It’s the unique way in which they processed. They are harvested even before the tea plant’s leaves are opened fully (i.e) when the young buds are still covered with fine white hairs (hence the name “White”).

White tea
White tea

This results in some of the most delicate, natural and freshest tea available which commands elegance and inspires tea drinkers to try something different. The overall flavour profile of white tea includes apricot, vanilla, chocolate, citrus, herby, mild, subtle, delicate, floral, grassy, honey, fruity, melon, peach and sweet.

Have you ever tasted white tea that invites your taste buds to go beyond sweet, bold and strong potent flavours to discover the joy of subtlety? Well, if not, then you will definitely want to by the end of this article.

What is White tea?

We know that quite a lot of us pride ourselves on being tea connoisseurs up to at least a certain degree, but our knowledge might hit a limit when we begin to think about this type of tea. You may wonder — there exists White tea, too?! — yes, yes there does. For those of us who may not know — White tea (like several other teas — Black, Green, Oolong) is derived from the Camellia sinensis plant. White tea is derived from the leaves of the plant in particular, which are then processed minimally during the production of what ends up becoming White tea.

Cup of White tea
Cup of White tea

The hand-picked buds and unfurled leaves are quickly withered for up to 72 hours and meticulously dried in the sun without allowing them to oxidize as long as the leaves in green and black teas.

Some producers use temperature-controlled ovens instead of drying the buds and leaves under the sun. The leaves are dried at 110 C and are considered done when the moisture content is just one percent. This unique method of processing makes White Tea stand out from all other types of tea.

Even though White teas are less popular than green and black teas or any other true teas, they are no less of a competition in delivering smooth flavors and potent health benefits.

Don’t believe me? Then, let’s just compare.

White tea vs. Green tea

One of the biggest differentiators among various teas is how they are processed or oxidized.Tea masters use many different methods to create and control oxidation, it includes shaping, rolling or crushing the leaves to speed up oxidation, and steaming, firing or roasting the leaves to stop it.

Grades of tea fermentation
Grades of tea fermentation

As said above, white teas are harvested at a younger age than green tea. Since every leaf can only be handpicked during a few days of early spring and has to be handled with great care, white teas are more expensive and usually considered rare than green. 

White Tea has more antioxidants

While white teas are steamed rapidly and then dried, green ones are partially fermented (steamed, fried and then rolled). Therefore, both are considered rich in antioxidants. However, when compared to green, since white teas are less processed, they retain a higher amount of antioxidants. These antioxidants are found to have many health benefits including boosting cardiovascular health, reducing the risk of cancer, helping in lowering cholesterol and enhancing weight loss.

Green tea has more caffeine content

The caffeine content in green tea is slightly more than white teas. An average cup of green tea contains around 20 grams of caffeine, whereas an average cup of white tea contains around 15 grams. However, the caffeine component of green tea has been shown a positive effect on green tea’s ability to help with weight loss. So, choosing green over white tea in this instance is maybe more beneficial. But, if you have a count on your caffeine intake, then you should definitely opt for a white tea.

White tea has a smoother and sweeter taste

White tea also tastes different from green tea. As discussed above, white tea has a smoother, gentler and almost sweet taste while green tea tastes slightly stronger.

Green tea is definitely an extremely healthy addition to the diet, I think the reason why more people recommend this over white is that it has been studied extensively and is more common plus easier and cheaper to buy.

However, considering white tea contains less caffeine and more antioxidants, it would be an even healthier choice. A tip when buying white tea or green tea blends is that always go for the organic ones as the tea plants readily absorb fluoride from pesticides.

What is White tea good for?

As we had previously mentioned, the leaves of the Camellia sinensis are minimally processed during the production of white tea, and as a result, white tea is extremely good for the health of the drinker. Let us look through the major health benefits that white tea provides:

It can help fight Cancer

Yes, yes, you read that right. Of course, nothing can really cure cancer as of yet, but studies have shown that white tea can help prevent various types of cancer. There are multiple studies that show that generous amounts of white tea intake can suppress the growth of colon cancer cells and prevents them from spreading. 

In the studies, the white tea extract was shown to be able to trigger cell death in several types of lung cancer cells. It is also shown that the antioxidants in white tea extract also protect the normal cells from being damaged by harmful molecules (which may then go on to become cancerous).

Reduces the risk of heart issues

Let us be very honest here, the majority of us do not happen to have very healthy habits when it comes to protecting our heart. An increase in bad cholesterol in the body is one of the major health issues plaguing our bodies in modern times. White tea contains ‘Polyphenols’, which have been found to help relax the blood vessels — leading to reduced strain on the heart while pumping the blood, and therefore longevity in the good health of the heart. Polyphenols can prevent the 'bad’ cholesterol — also known as LDL cholesterol — from oxidation, which causes risk and adds to our heart issues. Generous intake of white tea (at least 3 cups per day) has been shown to lower the risk of heart diseases by as much as 21% as compared to no intake of it at all.

'Golden tip' White tea leaves
'Golden tip' White tea leaves

Slows down the weakening of bones

With time, or due to certain other factors like genetics and unhealthy lifestyle, our bones become porous and hollowed out — this condition is known as 'Osteoporosis’. It affects many of us, even though we may not realize it before it gets too late to help the condition. Especially over the age of 45-50, the risk of fractures increases significantly, causing a significant decline in the quality of life around those ages. But wait, white tea can help! The catechins found in white tea have been shown to counter the risk factors of developing Osteoporosis. Catechins are thought to be the suppressors of the cells which break down our bones. These catechins are found to be abundant in white tea, even in comparison to other teas like green, black, and oolong!

Helps slow down aging of skin

Our skin can become stretchy and wrinkled up as our life goes on, it is completely normal. But what is not normal is the loosening-up and damaging of the skin due to several environmental factors like pollution and the broad spectrum damage by the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays. We also do not always remember to take care of our skin by living the healthiest of lifestyles, nor do we remember to take the day-to-day precautions to save our skin from the external damages (pollution, harmful rays of the Sun). This neglect can cause our skin to not only age and get damaged faster, but also puts us at great risk of developing skin cancer (Melanoma).

As for our internal or natural aging, certain harmful enzymes like Collagenase and elastase can damage our skin's fiber network, which is supposed to keep our skin firm and tight. White tea is especially beneficial for these issues because the compounds present in it tend to help in protection against the effects of both the internal as well as external aging. The white tea extracts provide protection from the harmful effects of the Sun's UV rays.

Also, the Polyphenols present in white tea come to the rescue once again, because they can suppress cellular components which may damage the fiber network, preventing the skin from loosening up, and thus, helps it in staying firm and tight.

'Silver Needle' White tea leaves
'Silver Needle' White tea leaves

Lowers the risk of Insulin resistance

An essential hormone that helps move nutrients from our bloodstream into our cells, to be used or stored for later use is Insulin. Things like too much consumption of sugar, coupled with a few other factors, can cause our bodies to stop responding to the insulin present in it — this is known as 'Insulin Resistance’. Now, this is bad news because resistance to insulin is linked to several chronic health conditions like Diabetes (Type 2), Heart Issues, and metabolic issues.

Once again, the Polyphenols present in white tea, along with EGCG, are found to lower the risk of insulin resistance, by enhancing the effects of insulin and keeping the sugar levels in our bodies in check.

It helps you lose weight

We have all seen the advertisements on TV about how green tea helps in weight loss, but did you know that white tea does so as well? Well, not only does white tea help in stimulating the breakdown of fat cells in our body, but it can also prevent new fat cells from being formed, largely due to the EGCG present in white tea. Many studies suggest that white tea can help boost our metabolism by as much as 4-5%, if you don't care for these numbers because they do not make sense to you immediately, we will explain — that is as much as burning an extra 70-100 calories per day!

This can certainly aide in your daily tea time helping you losing some of the weight you may have been meaning to shed — coupled with some lifestyle changes, of course, try to exercise for at least 30 minutes during your day, try to include fruits and vegetables in your diet, drink plenty of water (white tea helps you here, too!), and watch your body change in a healthy way!

White tea extract for skin

The science behind white tea’s higher antioxidant value is interesting, right? But what does this have to do with our skincare and anti-aging regime? The benefits of white tea for skin are immense and for this reason, apart from drinking it regularly, you can also consider using it on your skin.

In a nutshell, white tea extract helps in protecting our skin from damage and making it look younger.

White tea for healthier skin
White tea for healthier skin

Researchers found that antioxidants help in reducing oxidative stress which is thought to promote skin cancer, uneven pigmentation and wrinkles. Lotions, cleansers, serums, and potions containing white tea with high antioxidant value will reduce the damage to our skin just like how a paint job reduces oxidation damage to vehicles. Therefore, white tea extract prevents you from looking like an old jalopy.

Not only this extract protects you from the sun damage, but also helps you in anti-aging. I am pretty sure you have heard about collagen and elastin while reading any skincare article. Collagen and elastin are the two proteins associated with youthful skin. They give strength to your skin and enable it to stretch and bounce back. 

You may be less familiar with the enzyme called Matrix Metalloproteinases (MMP), but all our skins contain this. MMP is healthy when it is present in our body in limited potions. As age increases, unfortunately, the levels of MMP also increase which results in gobbling up the collagen and elastin. But don’t worry, this is when our superhero (white tea extract) comes to the rescue! When applied, it helps your skin in inhibiting the activity of MMP and therefore making collagen and elastin to perform their assigned task of maintaining skin’s freshness and stopping the functioning of enzymes that induce wrinkles and reduce firmness.

Since white tea helps in both preventing damage and rejuvenating the skin, you are never too old or too young to add this lovely ingredient into your daily skincare routine. While having a sip, you can also add its extract in lotions and serums to reduce wrinkles, replenish firmness and eliminate sun damage. 

White tea for anti-ageing
White tea for anti-ageing

So drink a cup of white tea every day and send the protective antioxidants and anti-aging MMP enzyme fighters into action to make your skin glow from inside.

White tea caffeine content

White teas are for everyone. They are simple enough for the beginner tea palettes and gentle enough to please the most experienced tea connoisseurs too.

Now, coming to its caffeine content, White teas are generally believed to have lower contents when compared to green and black teas. The original plant (Fujian White tea plant, native to China) is known to be lower in caffeine than any other teas — only two to five milligrams of caffeine for every eight-ounce cup. But, other plants around the world that are cultivated for white tea may not be as low in caffeine.

Some research even showed that certain white teas contain the same amount of caffeine or more than in green or black teas. The amount of caffeine can also vary depending on where the plants were cultivated and how they were processed. Ultimately, it also depends on the way tea was brewed for your cup.

If you want to monitor your caffeine intake, then you should definitely ask your tea vendor for the specific information of the tea before purchasing. Only buy from a reputable company that can tell you when and how the tea was processed and packaged along with the caffeine information.

Where can I buy White tea?

So, there is now a brand new type of tea for you to try! We have told you about the goodness of white tea, and how beneficial it may prove to be — but where in the world do you buy it? We have got the answer! 

Here are our best picks for where to buy your white tea: 

  1. teakruthi's Ceylon Ivory is pure Ceylon loose-leaf white tea from the Ruhuna region in Sri Lanka. Ceylon Ivory is mild and nutty in flavor. It gives a nice pale yellow color upon being brewed and gives off a fresh aroma which contains hints of lavender. Ceylon Ivory is said to be beneficial for the health of those who suffer from high Cholesterol and dull, acne-prone skin.

    Ceylon Ivory: White 'Silver Needle' tea
    Ceylon Ivory: White 'Silver Needle' tea

    Ceylon Ivory is absolutely perfect for you if you do not prefer your tea very strong, due to the mild nature of the tea, it doesn't require sweetening, and as a result, also reduces blood sugar levels.

  2. teakruthi's Ceylon Gold is pure Ceylon loose-leaf 'Golden tip' white tea from the Nuwara Eliya region in Sri Lanka. The leaves of this tea are picked from young tea bushes before the opening of the buds, and then dried out under the sun, this process lets the buds retain their velvety golden color. Ceylon Gold has a delightful rosy taste, and comes up to be an intense burnt gold color, upon being brewed.

    Ceylon Gold: White 'Golden Tip' tea
    Ceylon Gold: White 'Golden Tip' tea

    This tea has a delicate, rosewood aroma, and is said to be extremely beneficial for those who suffer from dehydration of the skin, and indirectly helps if you suffer from Diabetes. Ceylon Gold is perfect for you if you tend to enjoy a flavor in your tea which is neither too strong nor too mild — for such drinkers, a cup of Ceylon Gold would make the perfect afternoon companion!

  3. teakruthi's Blissful Harmony is an infusion of Ceylon of white and black tea. We understand that some of us may not be so used to the idea of drinking a brew as mild as white tea, and may want to ease into drinking something halfway between a delicate and light white brew, and an intense black tea. Worry not, we've got you covered. Blissful Harmony is picked from the Matara region in Sri Lanka and gives off a nutty aroma of roasted cashews.

    Blissful Harmony: White tea infusion
    Blissful Harmony: White tea infusion

    This infusion gives off a deep copper color upon being brewed. As we mentioned before, due to the fact that Blissful Harmony is an infusion of both white and black tea, it's flavor is buttery smooth and malty. The balance in the flavor of this infusion makes Blissful Harmony perfect for drinking at any time of the day!

How to store White tea?

The manner in which we store a product bought by us also plays an important role in our experience with the product. For consumable things like tea, in particular, it can make a big difference in taste, color, and even the aroma it gives off. So, we'll tell you how to store your tea properly once you have bought your pick of white tea.

White tea storage tips
White tea storage tips

As a result of the way it has been processed, i.e., minimal processing, white tea is very delicate, and the freshness of the tea can remain it's best for up to 11-12 months if stored properly.

  1. Store your white tea in a relatively cool, dark place. Heat and light can make certain enzymes in white tea which then begin the deterioration process of the tea. But we do not suggest keeping it in the fridge or freezing it either. Like we said, store your white tea in a place which is relatively cooler than room temperature (20 to 25°C or 68 to 77°F)
  2. Store your white tea in an airtight container, do not let it sit out in the open for a long time. If you leave your white tea out in the open, it will 'breathe’, meaning that it absorbs oxygen and the quality of the tea declines
  3. Do not let your white tea absorb moisture, this ties back into our suggestion about keeping your white tea in an airtight container. Additionally, select a container which is either made of steel, aluminium or glass (opaque, not transparent or even translucent, remember, we need to hide the tea away from light)
  4. We would advise you to avoid storing your fresh white tea in a container which already had another food item such as coffee or cinnamon powder stored in it. Doing so will most certainly infuse the flavor of the previously stored food item into your white tea, which will corrupt the flavor of your tea

How to prepare White tea?

We have talked to you all throughout the entire process of getting to know about white tea, explaining its goodness to you, where to acquire it for yourself, and how to store it for optimal flavor — but what about brewing? Of course, you may think — 'it’s probably just like brewing any other tea! Why all the fuss?!’ — some of us like to do things perfectly, and well, some of us could really just use some pointers when it comes to brewing tea because lately every cup we brew turns out pretty weak.

So here is how we recommend you brew your newly-bought fresh white tea:

  1. In order to brew 1 cup of white tea, bring a cup of water to a boil at about 80-85 C (176-185 F)
  2. Let it sit for 2-4 minutes
  3. Place 1-2 tsp of white tea leaves into a tea infuser basket or a tea ball, then pour the hot water over the tea
  4. Steep the tea for about 4-6 minutes, then strain it and pour it into a teacup
How to prepare White tea?
How to prepare White tea?

As the quality of teakruthi's White teas are impeccable, the white tea leaves can be brewed again, up to 3 times, without any deterioration in the quality of the flavor, color, or fragrance of the tea. Due to the delicate and light flavor of white tea, we suggest that you enjoy it without sweetening it additionally, but of course, you may add sugar/sweeteners according to your preferences.

So there you have it, everything about wonderful white tea! We suggest you try white tea at least once, and it is a must if you call yourself a tea connoisseur! Give it a go, we promise that you, too, will cross over to the 'avid white tea drinkers’ club’!

Other types of White tea

The white tea that is available today was first produced commercially in the 1700s from the very first white tea plant in China's Fujian province. They are called Da Bai and Da Hao. Because these are minimally processed and are delicate, it was extremely difficult to store and transport without spoiling. So, white teas were rarely available outside the Fujian province. But, as the production methods improved, the creation of white teas expanded beyond the Fujian province and into the other regions of the world which are thirsty for a rare and exquisite tea.

Today, there are many countries outside China that cultivate their own versions of white teas from different tea plant varieties. Let’s discuss about some of the highly popular white tea varieties in the world.

Silver Needle (Bai Hao Yinzhen)

Silver Needle white tea also known as Bai Hao Yinzhen in China is considered to be the gold standard of white teas. This tea is generally produced in China’s Fujian province. But, today it is also available in Yunnan province and some other countries around the world.

Most of the Silver Needle white teas are made using the Da Bai variety of the Camellia Sinensis plant in which only the silver-coloured buds that measure up to 30 mm in length are handpicked.

Silver Needle (Bai Hao Yinzhen)
Silver Needle (Bai Hao Yinzhen)

The professional tea connoisseurs say this tea has a light and sweet flavour. It is golden in colour featuring a woodsy rich body and seduces us with its sweet floral aroma.

At teakruthi, we have Ceylon loose-leaf white tea from the Ruhuna region in Sri Lanka which yields the flavour of Silver Needle White Tea.

White Peony (Bai Mu Dan)

White Peony (Bai Mu Dan) tea is a combination of young tea leaves and buds. Only the top two leaves of each tea plant shoot are used to make this type of white tea. Even though this tea is much cheaper than the Silver Needle, there is no compromise in its taste. It has a much stronger flavour. 

White Peony consists of full body and emphasize the delicate nature of white teas with its floral hints. It is pale green in colour and has a slightly nutty aroma and aftertaste.

Tribute Eyebrow (Gong Mei)

Just like the previous white teas, Tribute Eyebrow is also grown in the Guangxi and Fujian Provinces in China. This is considered as the third-highest grade among all the white teas. Gong Mei tea is harvested much later than the Silver Needle tea but boasts a bolder, stronger and fruity flavour and is similar is oolong tea.

Long Life Eyebrow (Shou Mei)

Long Life Eyebrow or Shou Mei white tea consists of the lower quality leaves that are left over after harvesting Silver Needle and White Peony teas. Therefore, this tea produces a stronger white tea that is also in dark golden yellow in colour. Long Life Eyebrow tea is classified as the fourth grade of white teas.

Ceylon White

Ceylon White tea is produced in Sri Lanka, India. This is made from the longest silver tea buds that are at least 25 mm in length and is considered rare. Ceylon white is light and has a fruity flavour that features hints of honey. All the Teakruthi’s White Tea belongs to this category of white tea.

African White

This African White also known as Malawi white tea is the most popular African tea. This tea is unique as it is made from tea twigs and stems. African white has a distinct flavour which is slightly grassy with hints of honey, but is more potent than classic white tea.

Darjeeling White

Darjeeling White tea is grown at altitudes up to 2000 meters in Darjeeling, India. The leaves are fluffy and light which result in an airy aroma and a mellow flavour with notes of sweetness. They are generally in pale gold colour.

Darjeeling White tea
Darjeeling White tea

Imperial Himalayan White tea

Imperial Himalayan white teas are named after the Himalayan mountains in India. They are cultivated in the Himalayan high altitude tea estates and are produced during the autumn harvest. These teas tend to have a stronger flavour dominated by fruity notes.

As white tea retains more of the plant’s natural goodness than green and black teas, are you not thirsty for a white tea? Then why wait? Grab your cup of white tea that suits your taste profile from our collection.

References

  1. Caffeine content of brewed teas — https://www.researchgate.net/publication/23471909_Caffeine_Content_of_Brewed_Teas
  2. Antioxidants: In-Depth — https://nccih.nih.gov/health/antioxidants/introduction.htm
  3. Theanine and caffeine content of infusions prepared from commercial tea samples — https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4787341/
  4. The importance of antioxidants which play the role in cellular response against oxidative/nitrosative stress: current state — https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4960740/
  5. Role of Matrix Metalloproteinases in Photoaging and Photocarcinogenesis — https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4926402/
  6. White tea extract induces apoptosis in non-small cell lung cancer cells — https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20668019
  7. White tea (Camellia sinensis) inhibits proliferation of the colon cancer cell line — https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25236244
  8. Tea consumption and cardiovascular disease risk — https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24172310
  9. Inhibition of bone resorption in culture by catechin — https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3463305
  10. Inhibition effects of catechin-aldehyde polycondensates on proteinases — https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15207729
  11. Effects of the aqueous extract of white tea — https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21802923
  12. White Tea extract induces lipolytic activity — https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19409077

About the author

Shreya Dalela

Shreya Dalela

Contributing author

Shreya loves to research and write about tea and claims Mythical Green Pure Ceylon Green Tea to be her favorite go-to beverage. She swears that her daily cup of green tea gives her a dose of morning inspiration as she sits down to type 1000s of words every day. To unwind at the end of the day, she reaches for a cup of soothing Ananda Veda Green Tea infusion. You can often find her saying 'Everything is better with a cup of tea' :)

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Menjeet Kaur

Menjeet Kaur

Price of white tea

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