Tea has been enjoyed for millennia by cultures all around the world and used for medicinal purposes as well. Scientific research in recent decades has shown that drinking tea is actually very healthy. Most of the research has been on green tea, and many people are well aware of green tea’s antioxidant power. However, white tea has often been underreported and many people are not familiar with the health benefits of drinking white tea. The following paragraphs will outline more about this lesser known tea and how it can contribute to good health.
What is white tea?
White tea comes from the same plant as green tea, but is picked earlier in the season while the leaves are not fully opened and covered in fine white hair. The leaves receive very little processing and are steamed instead of air-dried. This helps the leaves remain in a nearly natural state, and most importantly, retain high amounts of antioxidants.
Antioxidants are touted for their ability to help the body eliminate free radicals, which over time cause cellular damage that can lead to a variety of health problems. Because white tea goes through so little processing antioxidants are three times as high as in green tea. To put this in another perspective, a cup of white tea contains 12 times the antioxidant content of a glass of orange juice. White tea contains three main antioxidants from the catechin family; epicatechin, epicatechin gallate, and epigallocatechin, or EGCG. EGCG is the most potent and makes up 50% of the antioxidant content. Studies have shown EGCG to be up to 100 times more active and potent that vitamins A and C.
Obesity, Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
Some of the health benefits of drinking white tea include protecting the body from obesity, blood pressure and choloesterol. White tea contains caffeine, less than green tea, but still enough to help elevate the metabolism. Caffeine works in tandem with EGCG to activate a process called thermogenesis. This process stimulates the nervous system to release fat into the blood stream to be used as fuel. Further, white tea may be able to prevent the growth of new fat cells. Other studies have shown that white tea help to improve artery function, leading to better circulation and lower blood pressure. In addition, the antioxidants in white tea can help to lower cholesterol and prevent arteries from hardening.
The elimination of free radicals helps to prevent many forms of cancer. Drinking white tea regularly can help to reduce the risk of skin, lung, colon and other cancers. In addition to the catechins white tea contains flavonoids, another type of antioxidant, which help to prevent the development of new cancer cells.
Researchers have found that white tea has the ability to inhibit the growth of bacteria, particularly those of Staphylococcus, Streptococcus and pneumonia. In addition to stimulating the immune system to fight disease, white tea can help to eliminate some of the bacteria that cause illness.