In Western countries, when we drink tea, it’s usually green, black or a mid-range oolong tea, but lately white tea is getting a lot of press as one of nature’s wonder foods. What exactly is white tea? Let’s take a look at the four types of tea: black, green, oolong and white, and see what they have in common, and more importantly what they don’t.
All four types of tea come from the same plant, the Camellia sinensis plant. Each tea’s distinctive properties come about when the tea leaf is harvested. Black tea comes from leaves that have been picked and are then left to oxidize. Green tea comes from leaves that have been picked and then boiled so that the leaves retain their natural color. Oolong tea comes from leaves that are wilted in the sun and then bruised which causes their juices to be released. This process starts oxidizing the leaf, and when the tea leaf is only partially oxidized then it is fully dried locking in the rich flavor. And finally white tea comes from leaves that are picked before they have fully opened, and the buds are covered in fine, white hair.
Most white tea is produced in Japan and China with smaller amounts coming from India. White tea has been a popular drink among the Chinese for years, and it is only just now really being embraced by other countries who are coming to realize its amazing restorative properties.
Because white tea comes from very young leaves, it’s scarcer than black, green and oolong teas, and as a result it’s quite a bit more expensive. Since it has gone through little to no processing or fermentation it has a light, sweet taste rather than the more robust flavor found in the dark teas or the grassy flavor found in green tea.
White tea is turning out to be so effective at helping with weight reduction that one study shows by adding four cups of white tea a day to your diet, and changing nothing else, you can lose up to eight pounds in a year. Proven to have less caffeine, be higher in antioxidants and even suppress fat cell creation, white tea is, not surprisingly, quickly gaining in popularity.