Just when the world has embraced green tea as the best beverage of them all, along comes another contender. White tea!
Both white and green tea come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. White tea leaves are harvested at a younger age than green tea leaves, making it rarer as it can only be hand-picked during a few days of early spring. It is usually more expensive than green tea as it needs to be handled with care.
Green tea, considered to be a superfood, is slightly more processed than white tea, which is steamed rapidly and dried. Green tea, on the other hand, is partially fermented. It is steamed, fired and then rolled. The green version is rich in antioxidants as it is not overtly processed and is considered a zero calorie food. However, white tea has a higher content of antioxidants since it’s processed even lesser than green tea.
The name comes from the fine silvery-white hairs on the unopened buds of the tea plant. The beverage, however, is neither white nor colourless. It is a pale yellow beverage with a smoother, gentler, almost sweet taste as compared to green tea.
White tea is loaded with antioxidants, the nutrients that protect our body from damage by free radicals. Here’s how this tea can help you:
- Reduces blood pressure: Studies have shown that white tea can thin the blood and improve artery function. This in turn helps lower high blood pressure and promotes healthy blood vessels. In the longer run, it may arm the body against the risk of strokes.
- Cuts cholesterol: The catechins, another kind of antioxidants, help reduce cholesterol. White tea is choc-a-block with catechins and are known to increase good cholesterol and decreasing bad cholesterol. This may prevent hardening of the arteries and blockage of blood flow.
- Protects the heart: White tea has a beneficial effect on the heart and the blood circulation system as it thins the blood, lowers blood pressure and reduces cholesterol. Research has shown that people who drink 2 or more cups of tea a day are 50 per cent less likely to die after suffering a heart attack.
- Prevents cancer: White tea is said to protect against cancer-causing cells and against many different types of cancers, such as colon, prostate, and stomach cancers. The flavonoids, a type of antioxidants present in white tea, inhibit the growth of cancer cells and prevent the development of new ones.
- Builds bone strength: Studies have shown that people who drink tea regularly have greater bone density and strength than non-drinkers.
- Boosts the immune system: The plentiful antioxidants in white tea strengthen the immune system and function as a natural antibacterial and antiviral tonic.
- Improves skin quality: Free radicals – be it from sun exposure, stress or a poor lifestyle – can damage the skin and lead to premature ageing. White tea sifts through these free radicals and can reverse the damage. Drinking white tea regularly can lead to healthy skin.
The jury’s still out on whether or not white tea contributes to weight loss. Studies have shown that hot green tea may aid in weight loss as its caffeine component increases metabolism and encourages the body to burn more fat. By that logic, sipping white tea, which contains a bit lesser caffeine than its green cousin, may also aid in weight loss. Regular consumption of white tea may reduce blood sugar and help prevent and alleviate the symptoms of diabetes.
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So what’s brewing in your cup?