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Benefits of White Tea Vs Green Tea
Although not new to Asia, white tea is a relative newcomer to the West, and an elegant addition to the teas we already know and love. In many cultures, white represents purity, the untouched, and the angelic. Certainly you could attribute those characteristics to white tea, with its beautiful names evocative of its Oriental past, like Golden Moon, White Peony and Silver Needle.
Originally, white tea was hand-picked in only one region, the Fujian Province, of China, and only between March 15 and April 10, but now it’s also harvested in Japan, Sri Lanka and India, and its popularity is increasing around the world. One reason for this is its lovely taste, usually described as sweet and light, although different white teas vary in flavor. Another reason is its superior health benefits.
Benefits of White Tea
The purest white tea is made only from the unopened buds of the Camillia Senensis plant, which are silvery to white and covered with fine, downy hairs (hence, Silver Needle). The buds are sun-dried or steamed and then dried, preventing any oxidation from spoiling its pristine goodness. Some grades of white tea include just a few of the youngest, unfurled leaves, again steamed and dried. The buds and the young leaves have the highest concentration of antioxidants and less caffeine.
The immaturity of the buds and leaves chosen by the harvesters, and the lack of oxidation in its processing, results in antioxidant levels superior to green tea, the only other completely unoxidized tea. Lesser grades of white tea use the leaves left over after Silver Needle is harvested, and others use variant bushes.
Renowned for its antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties, white tea brings the same benefits to disease and imbalances as green tea in slightly higher proportions. It has higher catechin levels which reduce strokes, heart failure, carcinogens, and the risk of diabetes, and encourages collagen production in the skin. Just some of the benefits of white Tea.
The inclusion of gallic acid in white tea has antioxidant and tumor-fighting abilities, an amino acid called theanine is a mood enhancer and relaxant, and white tea has less fluoride than green tea. White tea is known to have a remarkable effect on the circulatory system, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, (as does green tea to a lesser extent).
If green tea is the Crown Prince of teas, white tea is the Queen.
Green tea and white tea are two extraordinary health tonics, so let taste be your guide. Because two cups of tea a day provide many more health benefits than one cup, reuse and resteep your white or green tea leaves or tea bags to get a concentrated antioxidant health boost. Yung sing!
What is Green Tea?
The history of tea is as exotic and far-flung as the mountains wreathed in mist where the best teas are grown. Legends abound about the origins of tea. Some say that in the 3rd millenium BC, Chinese Emperor Shen Nong first experienced the delights of tea when petals of the Camellia Senensis plant wafted into his pot of boiling water. Others suggest that Buddhist monks drank brews of wild plants for medicinal reasons, and brought green tea with them to Japan and beyond during their travels.
Whatever its origin, green tea (all tea was green, and possibly white as well, in those days) inspired praise in the literature of ancient Asian cultures for thousands of years because of its delicate flavor and its reputed health benefits.
As the consumption of green tea spread throughout Asia, its value appreciated, and it became a symbol of status, even of royalty. For a time, tea was used as currency by people who understood and traded upon the weight of its reputation. Fortunately, over time, tea was enjoyed by all classes of society, taking its place as the beverage of choice and a daily ritual for millions of imbibers.
You may be surprised to learn that all tea, regardless of its color, comes from the same plant, Camillia Senensis, a flowering evergreen bush indigenous to Southeast China. Now cultivated all over the world, the buds, leaves and sometimes, twigs, of this plant (and its variant, Camillia Assamica) are processed to provide tea to suit every taste, from the rich, full-bodied black teas, until recently, more familiar to the West, to the white, green, red, blue-green and yellow teas once more common in the East.
It is believed that in its early history, all tea was green or white because it was only necessary to dry the leaves and then steep them to enjoy the beverage in its purest form. Only later did Chinese and Japanese tea growers discover that different stages of leaf oxidation (sometimes inaccurately referred to as fermentation) produced the variety of colors and flavors we take for granted today.
Oxidation simply means that the picked or crushed leaves are exposed to the air for differing numbers of hours or days resulting in a “browning” of the tea that deepens its color and flavor. The long oxidation that creates black tea was necessary to prevent its spoiling when being carried or shipped for long distances. This explains why darker teas were traditionally more prevalent in countries farther afield until modern packaging and shipping methods made possible the exportation of the unoxidized green and white teas that grace our tables today.
By limiting or avoiding altogether the oxidation of the tea, a more delicate flavor blossoms and its healthful properties are retained in greater concentration. That fact alone accounts for the upsurge in green tea popularity as its benefits have become widely known.
Green tea, then, is a drink you can enjoy for its flavor and history in addition to its usefulness as a tonic for your health, ENJOY!
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