White tea is one of the most delicate varieties of tea because it is minimally processed. Unlike green and black teas, which are created by oxidizing the leaves for a period of time, white tea is made from young buds and leaves that are picked before they open fully. These buds and unfurled leaves from the newest growth on the tea plant are then handpicked and quickly dried, so the leaves are not allowed to oxidize as long as those plucked for green or black tea production. This minimal processing and low oxidation results in some of the freshest tea available.
Origins of White Tea
The tea tribute custom began during the era of early Chinese imperial dynasties (600–1300), when tea drinking and culture was flourishing across the country. Citizens would pay a yearly tribute in the form of rare and fine teas that were typically made from the youngest, newest, and most delicate buds of fine tea plants. Tea gardens were developed to cultivate these special teas, which poets described as being white like clouds, green like dreams, pure like snow, and aromatic as orchids.
These imperial tea tributes are considered the earliest forms of white tea, but they aren’t the white tea we know today. During Emperor Huizong’s rule of the Song Dynasty (960 – 1297), young tea buds would be plucked in the spring, steamed and striped of their outer leaf, meticulously rinsed with spring water, carefully air dried and then ground into a silvery white powder. This white powder would be whisked into hot water to create the finest tea available to the only person in China that could afford it—the Emperor.
Benefits of White Tea
Rich in Antioxidants:
White tea is considered to be one of the healthiest types of tea, as it is high in antioxidants: plant-based molecules that help protect the body against the harmful effects of free radicals. These free radicals may accelerate aging and even lead to chronic inflammation, a weakened immune system and a variety of ailments. White tea seems to fight free radicals as effectively as green tea, which has been proven to be healthy.
May Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease:
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Chronic inflammation has been linked to a variety of factors, including diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits like smoking. The polyphenols in white tea may help reduce the risk of heart disease in several ways; for example, several studies have found that polyphenols may help relax blood vessels and boost immunity. Other studies have found that polyphenols may prevent “bad” LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized, another risk factor for heart disease.
Could Help you Lose Weight:
Green tea is often the first tea that comes to mind when you think of teas for weight loss; however, white tea may be just as effective when it comes to burning fat. Both teas have similar levels of caffeine and catechins like epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a compound in green tea linked to burning fat. Together, these compounds seem to have a synergistic effect.
White Tea is considered one of the healthiest in the world.