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All about
White Tea

Yin Zhen Bai Hao White Tea (close-up)

White tea is the unfermented, uncured tea leaf. As with green tea, which is heat cured, white tea comes from the plant Camellia Sinensis plant, which grows in many Asian countries.

Other Chinese teas made from Camellia Sinensis include oolong tea and black tea, as well as jasmine tea (which is jasmine-infused tea leaves).

A note about tea terms: most tea terminology originates in China, so there are many spellings, particularly when it comes to specific kinds of tea. You will see spelling variations because these terms are translated from Chinese characters and sounds. Additionally, different regions of China use different spelling conventions.

The tea bushes are grown in rows that are usually about 2-4 feet high.

Like wine grapes, tea has an ideal growing climate in which photosynthesis occurs during the day to produce the best flavor. During the day, photosynthiates are built up in the leaves from the conversion of carbon into high-molecular-weight compounds of flavor, aroma, and structure. But maximum photosynthesis occurs at approximately 87 degrees Fahrenheit. (This is true of most deciduous plants, plus or minus a few degrees.) At over 98 degrees, photosynthesis stops.

For glycolosis, which happens at night, the right temperature is also important. In addition to providing the perfect growing conditions, the Fujian Mountains are also very clean. If a tea farm wishes to pay attention to the purity of the soil, water and air, mountain farms are the best spots.

The purest form of the Camellia Sinensis leaf, white tea is simply picked, washed and dried, giving it a fragile, flaky texture when dry and a very light gentle flavor. White tea is the least processed of all the teas, and therefore is highest in antioxidant, while it is lowest in caffeine.

White tea tea has taken a spotlight in American health studies due to its remarkably high levels of EGCG, a natural antioxidant.

Powdered tea, called fanning, is mostly the tea which left over from processing, and is the cheapest tea. Since powdered tea steeps quickly in teabags, it is a convenient and inexpensive way to ship tea, and it makes it easy to use a portion for a cup. But powdered tea has an increased surface area, and therefore is immediately exposed to the air, which oxidizes it very quickly.

For this reason, the highest-quality white tea is never ground. The best tea is kept in whole leaves, carefully packaged to be airtight, and used within two years-more preferably, within 12 months- of packaging.

There are many kinds of white tea. Varieties are based on region, age, wholeness of leaves, season picked, and flavor.


  • Use pure, whole tea. Some of the more serious tea companies provide test documentation to show it is free of pesticide residue. If you find a tea you like enough to drink daily, you may want to have it tested; metal toxins and fluoride have a cumulative, deleterious effect on the human body. Powdered teabags should be avoided because they tend to be stale, low-quality teas. With tea, the fresher the better.

  • Use pure water. Never drink fluoridated water; there is no evidence that ingesting fluoride has any health benefits, but high levels are toxic and can even be immediately lethal.

  • Avoid boiling hot water. Drinking scalding liquid isn't good for the body, but steeping tea too hot may cause it to lose its health properties. As with any plant, there is a big difference between the cooked and raw leaves.

    White Tea Serving suggestion:
  • Use whole tea. Do not use powdered tea bags. In studies we conducted using teabags versus whole teas, the teabags disappointed every single time.

  • Find a convenient implement. Chinese steeping cups might be the easiest--a porcelain cup with a lid and a porcelain basket inside that you remove after steeping. French coffee presses also work well, and many great teapots are available online.

  • Use pure water. Tap water contains chlorine and minerals which can drastically affect the taste of the tea.

  • Infuse the tea with warm water, not boiling. Green and white tea should be in the 160-180 degree range. To steep the tea: put the tea in the steeping basket; put the tea in the cup or pot and add water; remove the basket and enjoy. Repeat.

In China, people serve tea methodically according to tradition. Gongfu cha is the skill of serving tea (gongfu or "kung fu" means "skill"). In general application in China, tea serving is part of several aspects of the culture.

As its background character, tea plays a significant role in certain Chinese ceremonies.

A traditional Chinese teamaster set uses a tray with a drain and an urn with handling instruments, which are typically made of wood, including a funnel for adding tea to small pots; tongs for handling the cups; a tea scooper; and a poker and scraper for removing leaves from the baskets. When served to guests, tea is offered with both hands with a respectful bow of the head, which is returned by the recipient.

Note that articles about green tea are also about white tea-- white tea is the unprocessed verison of green tea.

Title: Green Tea May Protect Bladder From Becoming Inflamed (05/7)
Publisher: Science Daily
Herbal agents could be used to treat inflammatory bladder diseases, according to a preliminary study that looked at the ability of green tea to protect bladder cells from inflammation. The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study, being presented at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA) in Anaheim, Calif., found that components of green tea protected bladder cells from damage in culture.
Full story >

Title: Drink Green Tea, Prevent Skin Cancer (05/7)
Publisher: Medical News Today
Green tea just keeps getting better. To add to the abundance of health-improving qualities of the beverage, UAB Researcher Santosh Katiyar, Ph.D., associate professor of dermatology, claims that it can reduce the risk of skin cancer.
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Title: Green Tea Compound, EGCG, May Be A Therapy For People With Rheumatoid Arthritis (04/7)
Publisher: Science Daily
The study, presented April 29 at the Experimental Biology 2007 in Washington, D.C., looks at a potent anti-inflammatory compound derived from green tea. Researchers found that the compound called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) inhibited the production of several molecules in the immune system that contribute to inflammation and joint damage in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Full story >

Title: Green Tea May Fight Lung Cancer (03/7)
Publisher: WebMD
Green Tea Extract Tweaks Lung Cancer Cells in Lab Tests - Green tea may fight lung cancer and could inspire the creation of new lung cancer drugs, scientists report. But it may be too soon to count on a cup of green tea to curb lung cancer. So far, the scientists have only tested green tea extract against human lung cancer cells in test tubes, not people.
Full story >

Title: Green Tea And COX-2 Inhibitors Combine To Slow Growth Of Prostate Cancer (03/7)
Publisher: Science Daily
Drinking a nice warm cup of green tea has long been touted for its healthful benefits, both real and anecdotal. But now researchers have found that a component of green tea, combined with low doses of a COX-2 inhibitor, could slow the spread of human prostate cancer.
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Title: Cup Of Green Tea To Keep The Bacteria Away (01/7)
Publisher: Science Daily
Beneficial effects of green tea have been known for millenia, particularly in Asian cultures. An ancient Chinese proverb says: "Better to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one". A cup of green tea contains up to 200 mg of catechins, whose biological activity has been mainly attributed to its antioxidant activity.
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Love of Tea
Learn more about how tea grows in this beautiful tea book