White tea along with the other three major types of tea come from the Camellia sinensis plant, according to Environmental Nutrition in 2004. Leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant produce all real teas; whereas, herbal teas come from herbs or plants other than Carnellia sinensis. Web MD describes the four types of real tea as white, green, oolong and black tea. Tea is the second most frequently ingested beverage in the world after water.
White Tea Production
In recent years, white tea joined the market of healthy teas for consumers in the U.S. New buds and unripe leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant produce the white tea variety, according to Environmental Nutrition in 2003. The light and sweet taste of the white tea comes from the minimal processing of the leaves. The name, white tea, arose from the shiny white hairs on the unopened buds. The Camellia sinensis plant grows primarily in China and India.
Nutrient Components of White Tea
The Linus Pauling Institute describes catechin-polyphenols or flavonoids, caffeine and fluoride as the main dietary components or bioactive substances in white tea. White tea contains higher levels of catechins than other teas. Currently, research focuses on the potential health benefits of the catechins in tea.
Catechins in White Tea
White tea joins other teas for their potential health benefits attributed to their ability to modulate cell-signaling pathways in the body, rather than antioxidant properties. The catechins or flavonoids possess the ability reduce free radicals in the body and protect cells from DNA damage caused by reactive oxygen species. Free radicals damage the body and generate disease.
Weight Loss and White Tea
The International Journal of Obesity indicates the potential for the catechins and caffeine in white tea to assist with weight loss. These substances in white tea contain the potential to induce thermogenesis and fat breakdown. Thermogenesis refers to the ability of the body to burn energy via heat production. Nutrition and Metabolism describes the existence of a catechin, called epigallocatechin-3-gallate or EGCG, as the most common polyphenol in white tea. The EGCG inhibits the formation of fat cells in the body. White tea supplies caffeine in the form of methylxanthines. The methylxanthine causes fat breakdown and elevates energy expenditure in the body, according to Nutrition and Metabolism.
Heart Disease and White Tea
Health Central described a review of ten research studies indicating that the risk of heart attacked went down by 11 percent when individuals consumed three cups of tea per day. Scientists attribute the mechanism of action to reduce heart disease in tea to the catechins. Research remains preliminary at this time and further studies will determine the effect of tea on heart disease.
Oral Health and White Tea
The American Dietetic Association in their position paper on Oral Health and Nutrition reported that catechins in tea produce anti-streptococcal activity against caries producing bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus. The evidence for the degree of activity varied, but the research indicates the catechins may have inhibitory and bacteria killing action. The recommendation for the use of tea as a cavity preventing substance awaits future research.
Platzman, A. (2004) Reading the Tea Leaves: Is Good Health in Your Future. Environmental Nutrition.
Blaylock, R. L. (2009) White and Green Tea. Natural Health and Vegetarian Life.
New White Tea, Surprisingly, may have a Healthful Edge.(2003) Environmental Nutrition
Hursel, R. et al. (2010) Thermogenic Ingredients and Body Weight. International Journal of Obesity
Sohle, J. et al.; (2009) White Tea Extract Induces Lipolytic Activity and Inhibits Adipogenesis. Nutrition and Metabolism