Polyphenols and antioxidants: Should you drink white tea or green tea?
01/12/2022 / By Rose Lidell / Comments
Polyphenols and antioxidants: Should you drink white tea or green tea?

Both white tea and green tea come from the same plant: Camellia sinensis (tea plant). The teas differ depending on the degree of withering and exposure to oxygen (oxidation).

Many studies have looked into the health benefits of green tea, but white tea also offers several benefits.

Both teas are rich in polyphenols, antioxidant plant compounds that are linked to various health benefits, such as cancer prevention and weight loss.

Origin and processing

White tea originated in China, particularly the Fujian and Zhejiang provinces. Today, white tea is also grown in other countries like India and Thailand.

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White tea is a very lightly oxidized tea derived from the leaves and buds of the tea plant. It is named after the wispy, white-silver hairs on the unopened buds of the tea plant.

However, white tea itself is neither white nor silver. Instead, the tea is a faint yellow with a mild and smooth flavor.

On the other hand, green tea can be traced to both China and Japan. The tea is grown, harvested and processed differently depending on the country.

Green tea is wilted in shade and is steamed or fried in a pan. The processing of green tea is a little harsher and produces a different taste compared to white tea.

Taste and types of tea

When brewed just right, white tea doesn’t have a bitter aftertaste or the grass-like undertones of green tea.

Here are three types of white tea that you can try:

  • Eyebrow white tea (“Shou Mein”) – Eyebrow white tea is primarily made in China. The leaves are plucked late into the harvesting season and the tea has a fruity and robust flavor similar to oolong tea.
  • Silver Needle white tea (“Bai Hao Yin Zhen”) – Silver Needle white tea is made exclusively made from the buds of the tea plant. It’s also one of the most expensive types of white tea.
  • White Peony tea (“Bai Mudan”) – White Peony tea is made from the earliest leaves of the tea plant. It has a stronger flavor and darker liquid because its leaves are partially oxidized. White peony tea can help boost your kidney health, thin blood and support liver health.

The taste of green tea will vary depending on certain factors, like where the tea leaves were grown, harvested and processed. According to drinkers, green tea tastes may be bittersweet, swampy, nutty, sweet, fruity, or floral.

Green teas that have been steamed have a bittersweet aftertaste but other teas are sweet.

Most green teas can be divided into Chinese tea and Japanese tea.

Chinese green tea

Once the youngest leaves and buds are hand-harvested, they are dried in multiple ways. The leaves and buds are almost never steamed.

Japanese green tea

In Japan, green tea leaves are grown in the shade to ensure that the chlorophyll that gives these teas a bright green hue is retained. The tea leaves are harvested mechanically and are then steam-dried. Japanese green teas are full of amino acids that give the tea a unique “umami” flavor.

Matcha tea comes in powder form that contains the full leaves of the tea plant. Matcha offers many health benefits because it stores all the oxidants and chemical compounds in green tea leaves.

Gyokuro tea is emerald green, with a rich body and a smooth feel. The tea tastes savory and sweet.

Caffeine content and pros and cons

People often choose white tea if they are looking for a beverage with a lower caffeine content. White teas from Fujian, China usually contain about 15 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per cup.

Green teas contain approximately 20 mg of caffeine in every cup.

If you feel uneasy and jittery after drinking caffeinated beverages, choose Chinese white teas. Note that white tea is often steeped for a longer period than green tea, which produces more caffeine and a richer flavor.

Pros of white tea 

According to studies, white teas may be better at cancer prevention compared to green tea.

In a 2000 study, scientists tested four different kinds of white tea on rats to find out if they can help prevent colon cancer. Results revealed that white tea contains more polyphenols and can help reduce the harm done to DNA or cell damage linked to cancer.

The research team added that further study can help determine if white tea will offer the same benefit in humans.

Additionally, white tea is rich in beneficial compounds like fluoride, catechins and tannins. This combination of molecules can help strengthen your teeth by preventing damage from bacteria and sugar.

Fluoride helps prevent dental cavities by making the surface of teeth more resistant to acid attacks by bacteria and sugar consumption. White tea is also full of catechins, which are plant antioxidants that may inhibit the growth of plaque bacteria.

Finally, white tea contains tannins. Research suggests that the combination of tannins and fluoride also helps prevent the growth of bacteria that causes plaque.

Pros of green tea

Experts believe that green tea can help stop the growth of cancer cells seen in the breast, esophagus, prostate and stomach. The tea can also help prevent atherosclerosis and high cholesterol, which can help lower heart disease risk.

Green tea also has fat-burning abilities that can promote weight loss when consumed regularly.

According to a 2012 study, green tea can help reduce the inflammation and bacteria linked to gum disease.

Common benefits of white and green tea

Both white and green teas are low-calorie, as long as you consume either beverage without adding sugar or milk. If you’re trying to lose weight naturally, incorporate either white or green tea into a balanced diet.

Both white and green tea contains caffeine, which helps boost the amount of energy you expend during the day.

Common disadvantages of white and green tea

Make sure you don’t stay up too late by consuming tea in the morning and afternoon. If you are sensitive to caffeine, avoid drinking white and green tea.

Both white and green teas are lightly processed and are considered “raw” teas. This means both teas might upset your stomach, especially if you drink tea on an empty stomach. Avoid this by consuming tea at least 30 minutes after having a full meal.

Tips for brewing tea

Follow the recipe below to make white tea.

White tea

Ingredients:

  • 2 Teaspoons white tea (Or up to 2 tablespoons if using loose leaf tea.)
  • 6 Ounces water

Preparation:

  1. Put the water in a tea kettle and heat it to at least 160 F. Alternatively, you can boil the water and let it cool down to the correct temperature.
  2. Measure two teaspoons of tea into a pot or cup. Use more tea for leaves and less tea for buds. Pour the water over the tea.
  3. Place the lid on the teapot, or cover the cup with a lid or small saucer.
  4. Depending on the type of tea used, you should let the tea steep for at least five minutes. Some teas may require 10 minutes and bud tea often takes longer to infuse.
  5. When the tea is ready, strain the buds or leaves before drinking.

Follow the steps below to make green tea.

Green tea

Ingredients for 1 serving:

  • 1 Teaspoon green tea leaves
  • 1 Cup water

Preparation:

  1. Take the green tea leaves and put them in a strainer, then set the leaves aside.
  2. Take a stainless steel pot and boil the water to 180 F, but make sure it’s not boiling.
  3. Place the strainer over the cup and pour the hot water into the cup. Let the tea steep for three minutes.
  4. If you don’t like strong tea, check whether the tea suits your preferences by trying a spoonful of tea every 30 to 45 seconds.
  5. Remove the strainer and set it aside. Add a teaspoon of honey if you want to sweeten your tea.
  6. Stir the tea and let the liquid cool for a few seconds before serving.

Both white and green tea offer many health benefits, with some cons that you should consider if you are sensitive to caffeine. Otherwise, you can drink tea regularly to boost your overall health and lower your cancer risk.

Sources:

FoodsForBetterHealth.com

Healthline.com

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