White and green tea has been used as a medicine for thousands of years, originating in China but widely used throughout Asia this beverage has a multitude of uses from lowering blood pressure to preventing cancer. Although derived from the same plant as black tea (The Camellia Sinensis shrub) The reason that white/green tea has more health benefits attached to it than black tea is due to the processing. Black tea is processed in a way that allows for fermentation whereas white/green tea’s processing avoids the fermentation process. As a result, white and green tea retains the maximum amount of antioxidants and polyphenols, the substances that give white and green tea its many benefits.
TYPES OF WHITE TEA
Bai Hao Yinzhen (Silver Needle)
This royal variety is the most cherished one in China and the world. Grown in the Fujian Province of China, the silver needle leaves are approx 30mm in length and the buds are covered with visible silvery hairs. This is why it occupies the top position in the hierarchy of white teas, making it the most expensive variety. The best white tea leaves are plucked in spring, especially from the middle of March to the middle of April outside of their wet season. The top characteristic of the best brewed silver needle white tea is the pale yellow hue that comes with the best temperature of water (75 degrees Celsius). You can invariably see the white hairs dangling off the leaves under the light. Silver needle white tea carries a light, delicate, fresh, and sweet taste. Make sure you add two to three teaspoons of tea leaves and steep this tea for a longer time (five to eight minutes) to extract the best out of it.
Bai Mu Dan (White Peony)
This variety is slightly different from the one described above. It includes new leaves as well as the centre needle sprout of the plant. While it is widely accepted as the cheaper counterpart of silver needle white tea, you may be surprised to know that this white peony tea is actually preferred by white tea lovers because of its full flavour and lower cost. The plucking process of this tea is similar to that of silver needle, focusing on the spring season without rains. The best white peony is derived from the proportion of ‘two-leaves-to-a-bud’ and is withered to make green leaves, which eventually make the tea. This tea is known for its pale green/ golden colour and fruity taste that is devoid of grassy flavours
Shou Mei (Noble, Long Life Eyebrow)
The last category of Chinese white tea is the Shou Mei, which comes from naturally withered upper leaves and tips of white trees. This tea, similar to the silver needle, is grown in the Fujian Province in China and is known worldwide for its greenish colour and full flavour. The inferior qualities generally give a dark golden hue to the brew and must be avoided
Gong Mei (Tribute Eyebrow)
This variety is generally taken to be the third preference amongst tea lovers. Gong Mei is more processed than the other two variants mentioned above. It comes from Xiao Bai (small white) trees consisting of young leaves that are slightly bent (hence the name ‘Eyebrows’) and no buds. This variety has a dark golden colour and full flavour and is often served with dim sums
White Puerh Tea
This variety is grown in the mountain peaks of Yunnan Province in China and is plucked in spring. Every step of harvesting this variety is done by hand. It is known for its rich and sweet taste and imparts an amazing aroma
OTHER TYPES OF WHITE TEAS
As the name suggests, this tea is grown in the SriLankan region and is considered to be one of the top varieties, making it super expensive. It is grown and harvested by hand and thus can be called an artisan’s work. The leaves are sun-dried and then rolled gently with hands. Ceylon white or silver tips tea is known for its delicate and light flavour with light coppery hues
Just like Ceylon white tea, Darjeeling white tea is also an artisan’s work and is grown in a rainy climate. The leaves are super fluffy and light and impart fragrance like honey.
A cup of Darjeeling white tea has a delicate flavour and scent and is pale golden in colour
A rare variety that is grown the region of Assam and carries very light leaves. The brewed Assam white tea gives out a naturally sweet and malty taste
This variety is grown the Kenyan and Malawi regions of Africa and has a rich and distinct flavour that appeals to many. The caffeine content in this type is higher than that in other varieties
TYPES OF GREEN TEA
Sencha is the most frequently drunk and well-known variety of green tea. It is made according to the most common processing methods, whereby the leaves are steamed and rolled to produce crude tea.
Green tea that has been steamed approximately twice as long as regular Sencha is called either Fukamushi Sencha or Fukamushi Ryokucha. Fukamushi means 'steamed for a long time'. Since the leaves have been thoroughly exposed to the steam's heat, they become powdery and the tea takes on a stronger taste and darker green colour. It does not have a 'grassy' odour or astringency. Since the leaves have been steamed for a long time, they become finer and the tea made from these leaves has a high leaf content. Consequently, a unique characteristic of Fukamushi Sencha is that many active components of the tea can be absorbed into the body even though they do not dissolve in water.
Gyokuro tea bushes are covered with cloth or a reed screen (covered culture) approximately 20 days prior to picking. By limiting the amount of light that reaches the new shoots while they are growing, the generation of catechins from amino acids (theanine) is suppressed, resulting in lower astringency and a rich flavour. An aroma, similar to nori seaweed, is one of Gyokuro's unique characteristics. Kabusecha is another type of green tea similarly grown using covered culture, however, Kabusecha is covered for a shorter period than Gyokuro - approximately one week prior to picking.
For approximately one week prior to picking, Kabusecha bushes have a reed screen or cloth placed over them to block out most sunlight. This enables new leaf shoots to grow without sunlight, giving the tea a darker green colour, full-bodied flavour and lower astringency than Sencha. Gyokuro is another type of green tea similarly grown using covered culture, however, Gyokuro is covered for a longer period than Kabusecha - approximately 20 days prior to picking.
Hojicha is made by roasting Sencha or other types of green tea, which gives it a distinctive roasted aroma. The tea leaves are roasted in a roasting pan at a temperature of approximately 200 degrees C and then immediately cooled. Through roasting, caffeine is sublimated (changed directly from a solid to a gaseous state) and the Hojicha becomes less bitter. For this reason, it is said to be a tea that is easy to drink for children and elderly people.
Shincha is the 'new tea' or first picking of the season. Picking begins in temperate regions and gradually moves northward. Shincha and Ichibancha are essentially the same tea, with the difference being in name only. Usage of these names is often dictated by context. For example, Ichibancha is usually used in contrast to Nibancha and Sanbancha, which are made from later pickings. Shincha includes the meaning of 'first picking of the year' (Hatsumono) and is also called 'in-season' tea.
During the winter, tea bushes store up nutrients essential to the growth of both spring shoots and new leaves, which are lush and packed with nutrients. These new leaves become Shincha. The 88th day after the first day of spring according to the traditional calendar (February 4) is called 'Hachijuhachi-ya'. In Japan, a traditional belief since olden times is that if one drinks tea picked on this day one will enjoy the year in sound health and good spirits. Shincha's key characteristic is its refreshing and invigorating scent of new leaves. Another feature of Shincha is its low catechin and caffeine content, making it less bitter and astringent compared with Nibancha or Sanbancha. Shincha tends to have a higher content of amino acids (theanine), which give it full-bodied flavour and sweetness.
Ichibancha is the first picking of new leaf shoots of the year. After that, tea is called Nibancha and Sanbancha based on the order in which it is picked. Ichibancha is sometimes called Shincha. Ichibancha is used more extensively than the later harvested Nibancha and Sanbancha. Shincha includes the meaning of 'first picking of the year' (Hatsumono) and is also called 'in-season' tea. In some tea-growing regions, there is also 'Shutobancha' picked in early fall, with no Sanbancha being picked.
Green/white tea increases the metabolism. The polyphenol found in green/white tea works to intensify levels of fat oxidation and the rate at which your body turns food into calories.
Green/white tea helps regulate glucose levels by slowing the rise of blood sugar after eating. This can prevent high insulin spikes and resulting fat storage.
Scientists think green/white tea works on the lining of blood vessels, helping keep them stay relaxed and better able to withstand changes in blood pressure. It may also protect against the formation of clots, which are the primary cause of heart attacks.
It can reduce the risk of oesophagal cancer, but it is also widely thought to kill cancer cells in general without damaging the healthy tissue around them.
Green/white tea reduces bad cholesterol in the blood and improves the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol.
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
It is said to delay the deterioration caused by Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Studies carried out on mice showed that green/white tea protected brain cells from dying and restored damaged brain cells.
Studies suggest that the chemical antioxidant 'catechin' in tea can destroy bacteria and viruses that cause throat infections, dental cavities and other dental conditions.
Regular consumption of green/white tea is thought to reduce the risk of high blood pressure.
Theanine is an amino acid naturally found in tea leaves. It is this substance that is thought to provide a relaxing and tranquillizing effect and be a great benefit to tea drinkers
Anti-viral and Anti-bacterial
Tea catechins are strong antibacterial and antiviral agents which make them effective for treating everything from influenza to cancer. In some studies, green/white tea has been shown to inhibit the spread of many diseases
Green and white tea can apparently also help with wrinkles and the signs of ageing, This is because of their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Both animal and human studies have demonstrated that green tea applied topically can reduce sun damage