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White tea is frequently considered a queen of all teas.
One thing should be always remembered though: all teas are made of the same plant – Camellia sinensis, or, to be more specific – of its two subspecies – Camellia sinensis var sinensis and Camellia sinensis var assamica.
The difference is in the details of the processing.
The name “White Tea” derives from the fine silvery-white hair – pekoe (Chinese – Pak Ho) on the unopened buds of the tea plant, which gives the leaf a whitish appearance.
White tea undergoes minimal manipulations and do not require panfrying, rolling or shaking.
The processing of white tea is quite simple – withering, drying, packaging.
It is during drying stage when tea leaves are getting minor oxidation.
However, the selection of raw material in white tea manufacture is extremely stringent; only plucking of tea buds and young tea leaves with much fine hair can produce good quality white tea of a high value.
There are basically three types of white tea – made of tea buds only (Bai Hao Yin Zhen or Silver Needles), of tea bud and adjacent two leaves – Pai Mu Dan (White Peony), or tea bud and adjacent five leaves – Gong Mei (Tribute Brows).
It is interesting to know that the bud that falls into following 10 criteria shall not be plucked for white tea production:
1) Bud that is excessively grown
2) Bud that is not straight
3) Hollow bud
4) Purple color bud
5) Bud damaged by wind
6) Bud with insect bite
7) Bud damaged by plant disease
8) Skinny bud
9) Bud after the rain
10) Bud with morning dew
Due to very stringent criteria, even an expert can only manage to harvest as much as 0.5kg of bud in a day. In any event, 0.5kg contains about 10,000 pieces of bud.
The liquor of white tea is pale yellow and light to the taste.
Due to minimal processing steps the white tea preserves all the nutrition values and health properties of the raw green tea leaf.
As a matter of fact the white tea shares similar antioxidant, antiviral, antimicrobial and antiaging properties with green tea but with one distinctive advantage – due to minor naturally occurring oxidation, the white tea parts from astringent, grassy, herbaceous flavor inherent to green teas.
Due to gentle processing the white tea leaves preserve almost all the polyphenols, amino acids, essential oils, minerals and alkaloids of the raw tea leaf. Therefore white tea is a very strong antioxidant, muscle stimulator and brain relaxant.
The white tea is increasing metabolism rate, helps in atherosclerosis. It has laxative effect that helps to remove toxins from the body.
It improves blood vessels, makes them flexible and strong. It is very much advised for elderly people.
It contains high volumes of fluorine that improves teeth, nails and bones.
It increases blood clotting that helps in wounds faster healing
Improves immune system.
Removes fatigue and agitation, gives relaxation and peace of mind.
White tea is a very good thirst quencher.
In regards with caffeine content there is a common misconception that white tea is low in caffeine. Actually this is not true. Since white tea is almost unprocessed tea leaf naturally contains all the chemicals including caffeine present in the raw tea leaf.
The good thing is that since it is not rolled or any way deformed, the caffeine does not readily dissolve into the brew. Normally black tea gives into tea infusion more caffeine than white or green teas, but you should remember also that if you steep the white tea long enough, say 10 min in boiling water, then you will get the highest level of caffeine into your cup.
The difference is in the details of the processing.
The Green Tea is a tea leaf that did not undergo oxidation process.
During Green tea production, tea enzymes – peroxidase and polyphenol oxidase are destroyed via steam treatment or roasting (this process sometimes referred to as “kill green” or Shaqing in Chinese, when tea leaf is heated up to 65 Deg C), performed immediately after withering, and before the rolling starts.
It is worth mentioning that ‘kill green’ process in Japan is performed by steaming and in China – by pan frying or roasting. And this explains why Japanese teas are more vivid and brighter green than Chinese pale green tea leaves. In pan frying or roasting method the tea leaf reaches the needed temperature of 65 Deg C gradually, so some uncontrolled oxidation occurs; while steaming allows to heat up the leaf to the required temperature almost simultaneously, so uncontrolled oxidation doesn’t take place.
Processing the tea leaves in this way preserves all the polyphenols, amino acids, pigments, minerals, and vitamins unaltered, making the green the heathiest choice for tea lovers.
Camellia sinensis has many different varieties and because of the things such as the region it comes from, and the climate and soil (altogether called terroir) it was grown in, and cultural variety of the tea bush (cultivar) – all influence the characteristics of the tea produced; there are numerous varieties of green tea. Generally speaking, the best green teas come from Japan and China.
Green tea is often referred, mistakenly, to as “non-fermented” or “unfermented” teas.
Proper characteristic would be – “non-oxidized”, because fermentation is rather bio-chemical activity of the microorganisms and “oxidation” is just a chemical reaction of the enzymes being exposed to the oxygen.
Brewing Green Tea:
To prepare a fine cup of green tea it’s always best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for each variety.
Having said that, here are some general things to consider:
• The quantity of tea leaves – most green tea experts suggest using about 2 to 4g of tea per cup.
• Water – fresh spring water is ideal.
• Brewing method – brewing green tea in a pot is best, letting the leaves float freely.
• Infusion temperature – green tea is best brewed in water that has only just begun to form bubbles.
• Brewing time – most green teas should be brewed for no longer than 1½ to 3 minutes.
For those of us who don’t particularly like the taste of green tea, the good news is that adding lemon, sugar or milk to improve its taste doesn’t seem to affect the antioxidant levels of the tea and therefore shouldn’t remove any of the health benefits associated with drinking it.
Just remember though if you are watching your waist line that adding things like sugar and milk will add extra calories/kilojoules.
Health Benefits of Green Tea:
As well as helping us to lose weight, green tea is believed to have many other health benefits.
Among the most impressive of these, green tea is said to help:
• Reduce our risk of developing many forms of cancer
• Inhibit the growth of cancer cells
• Lower total cholesterol levels
• Improve the ratio of good (HDL) cholesterol to bad (LDL) cholesterol
• Help reduce the risk and treat rheumatoid arthritis
• Reduce the risk of experiencing cardiovascular disease
• Treat impaired immune function
• Help prevent tooth decay.
• Prevent food poisoning
In order to enjoy these health benefits and others, researchers recommend drinking green tea on a regular basis. In fact, many recommend drinking between 5 and 10 cups per day to get the full benefits from drinking green teas.
Is green tea good for everyone?
It is thought that not everyone should drink green tea or large quantities of green tea like those recommended by many researchers.
Because green tea does contain relatively high amounts of caffeine, it has been recommended that anyone with the following conditions speak with their doctor before starting to consume green teas:
• Heart problems or high blood pressure
• Kidney disease
• Hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid)
• An anxiety or nervous disorder
• Bleeding or blood clotting disorder
• Any condition requiring you to take blood thinning drugs
• Plant related allergies
• If you are pregnant
• If you are breast-feeding
Because green tea contains relatively large amounts of caffeine it has been suggested that it is not appropriate for consumption by children either.
In addition to avoiding green tea if you suffer from any of the medical conditions listed above, anyone taking medication should also consult their doctor before starting to consume green tea to make sure it is compatible with the drugs they are taking.
Green Tea and weight loss:
Many research studies have shown that drinking green tea can have a positive effe