8 Reasons White Tea is the New Green
It is said that after water, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world.
Green tea has been at the top of the popularity pyramid since its origination in China centuries ago. Its delicate flavor, variety, and health benefits have tea drinkers gripped and coming back for more. But there’s a new tea in town. A type of tea that is light, versatile, carefully harvested, and minimally processed—it’s white tea.
White tea has been used to describe tea with a splash of milk, but it’s actually an entire classification of tea (think black tea or green tea). Little insider note: it’s note even white, it’s yellow. The health benefits of white tea give a cup of green tea a run for its money, sharing many healing and preventative properties. Compared to green tea, white tea is known to be milder in taste, but still offers a bunch of different flavors.
With its mysterious history, unique processing, and extensive list of health benefits, there’s no doubt that white tea just may be the new green tea.
1. Origin Stories
Green tea originated in China around 2737 BC. It was primarily used for medicinal purposes, but early in the Tang Dynasty a cup of tea transitioned to being consumed for enjoyment. Lu Yu wrote “The Classic of Tea” (“Cha Jing”) around 800 AD, and the book became the first to explore the culture surrounding green tea. Eventually, drinking green tea became a symbol of status due to its limited accessibility. By the late 19th century, green tea arrived in Europe and shortly thereafter made its way to America.
While white tea also originated in China, its history is laced in mystery. For years, the Song Dynasty was thought to hold the first discovery of white tea, but there have since been discoveries of earlier references dating back to the Tang Dynasty and beyond. The tea remained relatively under-wraps until the last two centuries. Today, white tea remains lesser known compared to other types of tea, but its popularity is deservedly on the rise.
2. Least Processed Tea
Fun fact. Green, white, and black tea all come from the same plant: Camellia Sinensis. It’s the processing method, specifically oxidation level during drying, that makes different teas different colors. Oxidation is the amount of time leaves are exposed to oxygen after being harvested. The leaves are darker and richer in flavor the longer they’re exposed.
The two main differences between processing green tea and white tea are when tea leaves are harvested and how long the harvested leaves are exposed to oxygen.
Green tea is made from mature leaves, then lightly processed. The rolled green tea leaves are dried out and then pan-fried or steamed. The pan frying of the tea leaves results in the darker color of the tea. While all white tea is withered, not all green tea is. Subtle differences in the oxidation, rolling, drying and sorting processes is the source of great variety among green tea. Green tea is grown in nearly every country that grows tea.
White tea is made from new buds and young leaves, then minimally processed (of green, black, and white tea, white is the least processed tea.). Because the buds are young, there is a white fuzz overlaying the leaves, giving them a white appearance on top of the green leaf. Hence the name white tea. Once picked, the leaves are withered under direct sunlight, allowing the tea to keep its whitish/yellow color. The dried leaves are then moved indoors for further drying and sorting. White tea is not as readily available as green tea. It is grown mainly in China, with some growing done in India and Sri Lanka
3. Physical Health Benefits
Tea drinking is a fun, tasty, surefire way to boost your health. Green and white tea share tons of health benefits ranging from strengthening the immune system, to heart health, and so much more.
Green tea is infamous for being a beverage with lots of health benefits for both body and mind. It has been known to decrease inflammation, making it a popular drink among individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. It’s also been linked to lower cholesterol, improved blood flow, and congestive heart failure prevention. It’s also worth noting that cancer rates trend lower in countries with high green tea consumption.
White tea just may be able to rival green tea when it comes to health benefits. This makes sense given they originate from the same Camellia Sinensis plant. Being the least processed tea (compared to green and black), white tea retains a high amount of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Antioxidants may reduce the risk of heart disease and a variety of cancers. White tea has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and may lower the risk of insulin resistance. White tea’s impact on cancer prevention, like that of green tea, is TBD.
Both coffee and tea consumption have been associated with reduced risk of stroke.
With overlapping health benefits and a few strengths to call their own, drinking BOTH green tea and white tea is a great way to take advantage of all these liquid refreshments have to offer.
4. Memory Wellness
Physical health perks are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to drinking green or white tea. These teas can have a positive impact on memory wellness, too. Drinking green tea and/or white tea can strengthen an individual’s working-memory area of the brain. For this reason, there is research being done to determine if green and white teas help to prevent or slow Alzheimer’s disease.
5. “Beauty Tea”
Another pro for tea drinkers out there is the positive impact tea has on skin health. Green tea has been shown to reduce eczema, as the tea helps to repair damaged skin. Both green and white tea work to reduce inflammation and slow the aging of skin. White tea has even been coined “beauty tea” as a tribute to its skin health benefits. A cup of white tea can go a long way.
White tea gives many reasons to smile. Remember going to the dentist and picking out a fluoride flavor? White tea is also a great, natural source of fluoride, which helps prevent cavities.
6. Weight Loss
For both green and white tea, studies on weight loss have thus far concluded that drinking tea is unlikely to have a great impact on losing weight. However, either tea choice is a good, low-calorie alternative to other popular sugary beverages and caffeine is known to curb appetite.
7. Caffeine Content
While green tea contains caffeine, it has less caffeine than a cup of coffee. If coffee makes you jittery, it is encouraged that you consider green or white tea as an alternative. An 8oz cup of green tea typically contains 15-48mg of caffeine compared to 100-400mg in a similarly sized cup of coffee. White tea has an even lower caffeine content than green tea, with an 8oz cup ranging from 15-20mg of caffeine. Drinking tea can boost your mood and energy levels.
White tea has been described as delicate, smooth, soft, and with a taste of sweetness. With its low caffeine content and light flavor, it’s the perfect breakfast tea. Though paired with scones or sandwiches, it could be just as easily enjoyed during any time of day. As with green tea, white tea has many different flavors and varieties to be explored and enjoyed. A few of the most popular varieties are White Peony, Silver Needle, Tribute Eyebrow, and Long Life Eyebrow. While all of these fall under the white tea umbrella, their taste is unique.
So, which is better? Green tea or white tea? The decision is yours for the making, but it is abundantly clear that white tea is becoming the new green tea. Both teas have a plethora of health benefits while offering a variety of flavors. But with white tea familiarity and research on the rise, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to information on the least processed tea. So, the next time you’re curling up with a cup of tea, consider a White Peony, Silver Needle, or Tribute Eyebrow. Your physical and mental health will thank you for it. And that green tea, in all
its glory, will always be waiting for you there on the shelf.