White tea merits further research

White, green and black tea are all made from the same species of plant (Camellia sinensis); it’s the processing that makes each one different.

Jasmine Dragon PearlsIn making green and black tea, fresh leaves are dried, or “withered,” before being crushed, steamed or fermented. In the case of white tea, most of which comes from China’s Fujian province, fresh leaves are immediately steamed, then dried, leaving much more of their inherent chemistry intact. As a result, some experts say, the pale, sweet tea often boasts more polyphenols – antioxidant plant chemicals thought to play a role in cancer prevention.

Uses: White tea and its extract are sometimes used in attempts to improve dental health and increase the chances of long life. It’s also believed to fend off cancer and protect skin from sun damage.

Dose: Many tea manufacturers sell loose and bagged white tea. To brew, use two teaspoons of leaves per cup of water that’s just short of boiling. White tea extract appears in some multi-ingredient supplements used for weight loss, as well as herbal toothpastes, skin creams and lip balm. Doses vary depending on the product.

Precautions: Though it contains less caffeine than green or black tea, white tea does have the stimulant, so people sensitive to it should not overdo their intake.

Research: In studies conducted at Pace University, researchers showed that white tea extract – even more so than green or black tea extracts – can slow the growth of bacteria that cause dental cavities, pneumonia and other infections. Previous test-tube studies demonstrated white tea’s ability to kill bacteria, viruses and fungi. Lab and animal studies have also shown that white tea is better than green tea when it comes to preventing cancer-causing mutations in DNA. Researchers have suggested that minimal processing may be the key to white tea’s superior disease and germ-fighting powers. But research is still in its preliminary stages, so there’s still no proof that white tea can do for humans what it does in the lab.

White Tea has a lot of benefits and it is available at our website Teas.com.au

(By Elena Conis, Los Angeles Times, March 2005)