White Tea: Health Benefits and Side Effects

white tea benefits
White Tea Benefits & Side Effects

White tea

White tea originated from China is basically young leaves of Camellia sinensis. Processing of white tea includes picking of very young leaves followed by steaming and drying process in share in order to prevent it from oxidization which gives white tea a characteristic light and delicate taste. White tea leaves are generally longer and whitish or very pale yellow in color generally harvested in early spring once in a year. As white tea is only harvested in spring, therefore, the supply of premium white tea is very limited.

What are the constituents of White Tea?

Constituents of white tea vary from tea to tea and it depends upon the origin of the tea and the type of processing it has gone through. According to a study (1), the constituents of white tea and its detail comparison in g /100 g with green tea are as follows

Total Polyphenols ·         White Tea: 21.54

·         Green Tea: 19.18

Total Catechins

 

·         White Tea: 13.22

·         Green Tea: 12.95

Caffeine ·         White Tea: 4.85

·         Green Tea: 2.90

Epigallaocatechin gallate

 

·         White Tea: 8.00

·         Green Tea: 6.75

Epigallaoactechin

 

·         White Tea: 1.11

·         Green Tea: 2.84

Flavonol Glycosides

 

·         White Tea: 0.61

·         Green Tea: 1.1

Types of White Tea

White tea storage time and processing and age and type of leaves and buds affect the chemical constituents of white tea which ultimately gives specific performance, flavor, and taste of tea. White tea is categorized into the following four grades

1. Baihao Yinzhen (Silver Needle Tea)

Most expensive premium tea made from the young bud. The whole processing is done by hands. The silver hairs on young bud give it a silver pointed structure. Silver Needle Tea is harvested only in spring.

2. Bai Mudan (BM) (White Peony Tea)

Expensive tea after silver needle. Made up of one leaf bud and two immediate young leaves. Also harvested in spring.

3. Gong Mei (GM) (Tribute eyebrow)

A little inferior quality tea comparison to the silver needle. Consist of broken leaves and few buds.

4. Shou Mei (SM) (Longevity eyebrow)

Also an inferior quality white tea with few buds and broken leaves.

10 Health benefits of white tea

1. Prevent colon cancer

Colon cancer is considered as the world’s third most common form of cancer in both men and women. On the basis of study (2) done on Colon cancer cell line, it was found because of high antioxidant and free radical scavenging property white tea helps in retarding the cancerous growth and protects the normal cells against oxidative damage

2. Anti-cancerous – Antimutagenic activity 

White tea because of its high epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) and several other polyphenols than that of green tea showed antimutagenic activity hence proving that the teas which undergo the least processing have high anticarcinogenic activity (3).

3. Improves male infertility in type 2 diabetes

In a study (4) done on Type 2 Diabetes mellitus (DM) rat’s showed that consumption of white tea increases the sperm quality. This is because of the white increases glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.

4. Weight Loss

White tea increases body metabolism due to the presence of antioxidants which aids in burning more calories and thus reducing weight (5).

5. Reduce Cholesterol

White tea reduces bad cholesterol from the body due to the presence of Catechins.

6. Reduces anxiety

Caffeine helps in increasing the activity of neurotransmitters and thus relaxes the body. White tea contains almost double caffeine than that of green tea, due to the presence of caffeine helps in relief from tension and headache.

7. Energy booster

White tea because of its high caffeine content helps in increasing the energy level of the body. Studies showed that caffeine even helps in increasing the concentration and work efficiency during common cold (6).

8. Immunity booster

Due to high in antioxidant in white tea, it helps in boosting the immune system and prevents the body against various type of bacteria and viruses and protects from infections.

9. Prevents tooth decay

Like yellow tea white tea also contains fluoride (F). Hence consuming tea containing fluoride in permissible quantity helps in healthy teeth and proper development of bones and thus preventing from osteoporosis, and osteosclerosis (7).

10. Anti-aging effect

Research published in Plant food for Human Nutrition established that white tea exerts neuroprotection action against hydrogen peroxide toxicity by the antioxidant mechanism through reactive oxygen species in the PC12 cell line (8) hence increasing the longevity of cells.

8 Side effects of White Tea

It is extremely important to check the quality before consuming white tea and it’s now a popular drink in many countries.

1. High in caffeine

A comparative study of caffeine content in five different types of tea that are green tea, black tea, white tea, yellow tea and oolong tea published in Czech Journal of Food Science it was found that white tea contains higher caffeine. There is a misnomer of having low caffeine in white tea but research (9) done on its caffeine expression gene it was observed that younger leaf and shade grown leaf showed the highest secretion of caffeine.

2. High fluoride

White tea is most minimally processed than other types of teas, therefore, showed the highest fluoride accumulation in leaves. White tea contains 356 mg/Kg Flouride compared to green tea (309.1 mg/Kg), black tea (332.2 mg/Kg), yellow tea (314.6 mg/Kg), oolong tea(312.6 mg/Kg) and dark tea (305.3 mg/Kg). Drinking tea daily is good for health but there is also a limit. According to WHO fluoride in permissible quantity (0.05 mg/day/kg Bone weight) is good for healthy teeth and bone but excessive result in fluorosis, that is dental mottling and skeletal manifestations such as crippling deformities, osteoporosis, and osteosclerosis (7).

3. Pregnancy Complications

Due to the presence of caffeine, it will be advisable not to consume too much white tea during pregnancy

4. Anxiety

Frequent consumption of white tea increases the habit of caffeine intake such case is known as caffeine addiction. Caffeine addiction further leads to anxiety and insomnia (6).

5. Osteoporosis

Excess white tea consumption accumulates caffeine in the body further increasing the risk of bladder hence decrease calcium absorption by bone because of the overexertion of calcium through urine. Decrease calcium absorption leads to osteoporosis. The condition gets worse for the people who are suffering from glaucoma (6).

6. Affects premenstrual symptoms (PMS)

Excessive consumption of white may lead to premenstrual symptoms in women it also increases the risk of diabetes by secretion of insulin (6).

7. High blood pressure

White tea as for its caffeine content may cause high blood pressure on consuming excessively. As caffeine releases norepinephrine further results in vasoconstriction and hence causes increase heart rate and high blood pressure (6).

How to prepare white tea

We should check the quality of white tea before preparation. Use pointed leaf shaped white tea only for better results.  Preparation of white tea is very simple and easy like any other tea.

Ingredients

  1. Hot water (200-300 ml)
  2. White tea (tea bag or 5 g loose tea)
  3. Sweetener (honey or sugar)

Steps

  1. Take a cup filled with hot water, add tea (tea bag) and allow to steep depending on how strong you want then stir with sweetener
  2. Boil water with loose tea (5 g) time of boiling depends upon how strong you want then cover it for 1 to 2 min thereafter stain the tea and add sweetener as per your taste.

References

  1. DOI 10.1007/s00003-007-0250-3
  2. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2014.07.005
  3. Santana-Rios G. et al 2001; Potent antimutagenic activity of white tea in comparison with green tea in the Salmonella assay; Mutation Research 495(1-2); 61–74
  4. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.1014.1343&rep=rep1&type=pdf
  5. Sharma et al 2013; White tea: Offering something new to your health; Herbal Technology/ Medical Chemistry
  6. Vijayakumar et al 2014; A Study on Caffeine Effect of Tea on Health. International Journal of Advanced Biotechnology and Research(IJBR) ISSN 0976-2612, Online ISSN 2278–599X, Vol 5(3), 359-363
  7. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2017.08.083
  8. doi: 10.1007/s11130-010-0203-3.
  9. https://doi.org/10.1134/S1021443707050196

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