AUTHORITY NUTRITION

10 Impressive Benefits of White Tea

Written by Ryan Raman, MS, RD (NZ) on January 10, 2018

White tea is made from the Camellia sinensis plant.

Its leaves and buds are picked just before they are fully open, when they’re covered in fine white hairs. This is where white tea gets its name (1).

Green tea and black tea are also made from the Camellia sinensis plant. However, different processing methods give them their unique flavors and aromas.

White tea is the least processed of the three teas. Because of this, it retains a high amount of antioxidants (2, 3).

This is thought to be one reason why studies have linked white tea with many health benefits. For example, it may help reduce the risk of heart disease, combat skin aging and even help with weight loss.

This article lists 10 science-backed benefits of drinking white tea.

White Tea in Cup

White tea is loaded with a type of polyphenols called catechins (3).

Polyphenols are plant-based molecules that act as antioxidants inside the body. Antioxidants protect the cells from damage by compounds called free radicals (4).

Too much free-radical damage can have harmful effects on the body. It is linked to aging, chronic inflammation, a weakened immune system and a variety of harmful diseases (5).

Fortunately, white tea seems to be one of the best types of teas for fighting free radicals. In fact, studies suggest white tea has similar antioxidant benefits to green tea, which is known for its health benefits (3).

A test-tube study found that white tea extract can help protect animal nerve cells against damage from a free radical called hydrogen peroxide (6).

Another test-tube study found that white tea powder was very effective at reducing inflammation from free radicals in human skin cells (7).

While test-tube studies are promising, more human-based research on white tea and its antioxidant benefits are needed.

Summary White tea is packed with polyphenols, which have antioxidant benefits. They help reduce chronic inflammation by protecting the body against damage from free radicals.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States (8).

It is strongly linked to chronic inflammation, which has been associated with a variety of factors. These include diet, exercise and lifestyle habits like smoking (9).

Polyphenols like those found in white tea may help reduce the risk of heart disease in several ways.

For one, several studies have found that polyphenols may help relax blood vessels and boost immunity (10, 11).

Other studies have found that polyphenols may prevent “bad” LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized, which is another risk factor for heart disease (12).

In an analysis of five studies, scientists discovered that people who drank three cups or more of tea per day had a 21% lower risk of heart disease (13).

While these results suggest white tea may help lower your risk of heart disease, it’s also important to make other lifestyle changes for a healthy heart. These include eating more fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly and getting plenty of rest (14, 15, 16).

Summary Polyphenols like those found in white tea may help relax blood vessels, boost immunity and prevent bad cholesterol from becoming oxidized. These factors may help lower the risk of heart disease.

Green tea is often the first tea that comes to mind when you think of teas for weight loss.

However, white tea may be just as effective when it comes to burning fat.

Both teas have similar levels of caffeine and catechins like epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a compound in green tea linked to burning fat. Together, these compounds seem to have a synergistic effect (17, 18).

For instance, a test-tube study found that white tea extract was able to stimulate fat breakdown and prevent new fat cells from being formed. This was largely due to EGCG (19).

A review of studies also suggests that white tea may help boost your metabolism by an extra 4–5%. This may be equal to burning an extra 70–100 calories per day (20).

Perhaps because white tea is not very popular, there is no research on the effects of drinking white tea and long-term weight loss. More research in this area is needed.

Summary White tea is a good source of caffeine and catechins like EGCG. These two compounds may have a synergistic effect that helps the body burn fat and boost metabolism.

White tea is a great source of fluoride, catechins and tannins (21).

This combination of molecules could help strengthen teeth by fighting bacteria and sugar.

Fluoride can help prevent dental cavities by making the surface of teeth more resistant to acid attacks by bacteria in combination with sugar (22, 23).

Catechins are plant antioxidants that are abundant in white tea. They’ve been shown to inhibit the growth of plaque bacteria (18, 24).

Tannins are another type of polyphenol in white tea. Studies show that the combination of tannins and fluoride could also inhibit the growth of plaque-causing bacteria (23).

Summary White tea is a great source of fluoride, catechins and tannins. Several studies have shown that these compounds can help fight bacteria that cause plaque on teeth.

Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States (25).

Several test-tube studies have found that white tea may have anticancer effects.

In one test-tube study, white tea extract triggered cell death in several types of lung cancers (26).

Two more test-tube studies looked at the effects of white tea on colon cancer cells (27, 28).

The studies discovered that white tea extract suppressed the growth of colon cancer cells and stopped them from spreading. The antioxidants in white tea extract also protected normal cells from damage by harmful molecules (27, 28).

However, it’s worth noting that these test-tube studies used large amounts of white tea. More studies in humans are needed to understand the effects of drinking white tea on cancer.

Summary Test-tube studies have found that white tea extract suppressed several types of cancer cells and stopped them from spreading. However, more human research is needed.

Insulin is an incredibly important hormone. It helps move nutrients from the bloodstream into the cells to be used or stored for later.

However, as a result of several factors, including high sugar consumption, some people stop responding to insulin. This is called insulin resistance.

Sadly, insulin resistance is very common and is linked to many chronic health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and metabolic syndrome (29).

Interestingly, studies have found that polyphenols like the ones in white tea may lower your risk of insulin resistance (30).

Animal studies have found that EGCG and other polyphenols found in white tea may enhance the effects of insulin and prevent high blood sugar levels (31).

In an analysis of 17 studies with over 1,100 people, scientists found that the molecules inside teas, like polyphenols, significantly reduced blood sugar and insulin levels (32).

While the research seems promising, more human-based studies specifically on white tea will help clarify whether it can reduce the risk of insulin resistance.

Summary Insulin resistance is a harmful condition linked to many chronic diseases. Studies have shown that polyphenols like those found in white tea may lower the risk of insulin resistance and improve blood sugar control.

Osteoporosis is a health condition in which the bones become hollow and porous.

It affects as many as 44 million Americans over the age of 50, and may lead to fractures and a lower quality of life (33).

Studies have shown that free radicals and chronic inflammation may accelerate osteoporosis. These two factors may suppress cells that aid bone growth and promote cells that break down bones (34).

Conversely, catechins that are found in white tea have been shown to fight these risk factors. They’re thought to suppress cells that break down bones (35, 36, 37).

These catechins are abundant in white tea compared to other types of teas (20).

Summary Osteoporosis is common among the elderly and may lead to fractures. Compounds found in white tea, including the polyphenols called catechins, may lower the risk of osteoporosis by promoting bone growth and suppressing bone breakdown.

As people grow older, it’s normal for their skin to wrinkle and become looser.

Skin aging happens in two main ways — internal aging and external aging.

External aging occurs when environmental factors damage skin and promote aging. For example, the sun’s UV rays can damage skin over time through inflammation (38, 39).

Internal aging is also known as natural aging. It is caused by damage from a variety of factors inside your body, like free radicals and certain enzymes (40).

Enzymes called elastase and collagenase may damage the skin’s fiber network, which normally helps it stay tight and firm (40).

The compounds in white tea may help protect your skin from the effects of both internal and external aging.

In one study, scientists discovered that applying white tea extract to the skin helped protect against the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays (41).

Many studies have found that polyphenols, which are found in white tea, can suppress several cellular components that may damage the fiber network that helps the skin stay tight and firm (42, 43, 44).

Summary White tea and its compounds may protect the skin from damage linked to aging. This includes external damage from the sun’s UV rays and internal damage from cellular components that may harm the skin’s fiber network.

Compounds in white tea, like the polyphenol EGCG, may lower the risk of developing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Test-tube and animal studies have shown that EGCG can suppress free radicals, reduce inflammation and reduce other risk factors for both diseases.

For example, several test-tube studies have shown that EGCG can prevent proteins from inappropriately folding and clumping together (45, 46).

This is a risk factor for both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Misfolded and clumped proteins can promote inflammation and damage nerves in the brain (47, 48).

There are also several human studies that have linked drinking tea with a lower risk of both diseases.

For example, a review of eight studies with over 5,600 people found that people who drank tea had a 15% lower risk of Parkinson’s disease than people who did not drink tea (49).

Another analysis of 26 studies and more than 52,500 people found that drinking tea daily was linked with a 35% lower risk of brain disorders like Alzheimer’s disease (50).

Summary EGCG, which is found in white tea, has been linked with a lower risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s diseases. EGCG may help fight inflammation and prevent proteins from clumping and damaging nerves, two conditions linked with these disorders.

One of the best reasons to drink white tea is that it’s easy to prepare.

Simply add loose white tea to a pot and pour hot water over the tea leaves. Let the leaves steep for five to eight minutes, then strain and serve the tea.

Ideally, the water should be 170–185°F (75–85°C). Avoid using boiling water because it can ruin the delicate flavor of white tea.

Instead, bring the water to a rolling boil, then let it sit for a minute or two to cool down.

White tea has a subtle yet refreshing taste. It can be enjoyed both hot or as a cold brew.

If you prefer a stronger tea, then you can add more dry leaves if you’d like. It’s best to experiment until you create the right flavor balance for your taste preferences.

You can purchase white tea leaves online or from your local health food store.

Alternatively, you can purchase premade bags of white tea from your local grocery store. These bags can be steeped in hot water for two to three minutes, removed and enjoyed.

Summary To make white tea, simply steep loose white tea in hot water for five to eight minutes. It has a subtle yet refreshing taste, so you can add more leaves if you prefer a stronger tea.

White tea is packed with antioxidants, which makes it an incredibly healthy tea.

Studies have linked white tea and its components to a variety of impressive health benefits, including a lower risk of heart disease and cancer. It may also help you lose weight.

Sadly, white tea has not been studied as much as other teas, like green tea, because it’s not as popular. More human studies on white tea would help clarify its health benefits.

All told, white tea is a great addition to your diet and it is easy to prepare. It has a subtle yet refreshing taste and can be enjoyed both hot and as a cold brew.

An evidence-based nutrition article from our experts at Authority Nutrition.

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