The health benefits of white tea are slowly gaining the recognition they deserve. For years, white tea has languished in the shadows of its more popular cousins, green tea and black tea. Now thanks to wider exposure, the healing properties of this beverage are being discussed and analyzed more often.
White tea got its name from the presence of silvery white hairs in the leaves and buds of its source plant - camellia sinensis - which is where all true teas come from. The hairs are present because unlike the other varieties, the plant to made into white tea is plucked even before it fully opens and while they are still covered with the hairs.
White tea comes from the Chinese province of Fujian. It has several varieties such as Silver Needle (Bai Hao Yinzhen), White Peony (Bai Mudan), white Darjeeling, longlife eyebrow and tribute eyebrow.
Recent research has shown that white tea may hold more anti-oxidants than the other varieties. It also appears to exhibit greater anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties than its green counterpart.
These are mainly due to the fact that white tea is steamed immediately after it is picked, and then fast-dried. The resultant effect is that this preserves higher concentrations of catechins than the other teas. Catechins are compounds found in the leaves and buds that are thought to boost the immune system and combat such bodily ailments and disorders as cancer and heart disease.
Evidence also point to the beverage's beneficial effects in increasing bone density, lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol levels and strengthening the teeth.
White tea has a milder taste compared to black tea and has a less "grassy" taste than green tea. To make a cup, place a tablespoon of the leaves in about eight ounces of near-boiling water. Let it soak for three to five minutes. The leaves can be reused several times.
So the next time you come across white tea, it's worth bearing in mind that it is considered the most potent variety as it possesses greater amounts of the natural disease-fighting compounds than its counterparts.