Learn the facts about white tea. This 5,000 year old beverage is showing promise in keeping you healthy. It’s also delicious and easy to make.
A perennial favorite in Asia and China, white tea is gaining in popularity in the West. Impressive evidence of its nutritional benefits is encouraging the surge in popularity of this 5,000-year-old beverage.
Health Benefits of White Tea
What’s all the fuss about? Well, you name it. Undergoing less processing than many other tea varieties, white tea can have ten times the antioxidant power of vitamin E and impressively high concentrations of polyphenols and catechins. This power punch can help fight the ravages of aging caused by free radicals in your system. It can also help lower cholesterol and inhibit the development of cancer cells. Side benefits include white tea’s ability to help increase bone density, aid the immune system, and help lower blood pressure.
Varieties of White Tea
Want to know more? White tea gets its distinctive appearance and name from the white to silver hairs that are visible on the closed buds of the tea plant. White peony and silver needle are among the most valuable varieties, but other popular white teas are tribute eyebrow, white Darjeeling, and long life eyebrow.
Silver Needle White Tea (Baihao Yinzhen)
Taken exclusively from buds of the tea plant before opening, silver needle tea is not rolled, fired, or fermented. The harvested buds are steamed and dried, resulting in the finest quality white tea. Silver needle tea has a delicate flavor and resembles a handful of green-gray to silver needles, the visual characteristic for which it is named.
White Peony Tea (Bai Mudan)
Somewhat stronger in flavor than silver needle tea, white peony is taken from the bud and the first few leaves of the tea plant (not the peony). This results in a darker and more robust brew.
Brewing White Tea
The White tea needs a lower water temperature for optimum flavor. Brewing water should be just shy of the boiling point, in the 185 to 190 Degree range. Steep one tablespoon of tea in eight ounces of water for three to five minutes. If you find that this is too weak a concentration for you, increase the volume of tea leaves by half. According to the White Tea Guide, the leaves can be reused several times, but should be steeped longer than in the initial brewing.
Tea is an occasion as well as a beverage. The process of preparing and serving this historic drink has many traditions from around the globe, as well as a wealth of varieties harvested from a diverse group of plants. White tea, one of the most delicate and now possibly healthiest, offers a refined flavor and aroma for the discriminating tea enthusiast.
If you are a novice when it comes to tea, but want to explore the health benefits you’ve been hearing about, remember that freshness is important. Keep your tea container sealed and in a cool dark place. Water temperature requirements vary depending on the tea variety you are trying, as do the recommended steep times. Be sure to read the directions carefully before you begin in order to insure that you’re getting the full health and flavor benefits offered by your tea of choice. White tea is great, but don’t stop there. Exploring tea can be a great hobby that’s also good for you.