Gardening

White tea: a select infusion with a delicate flavor that protects health

What is white tea? The white tea is the most pure and natural version of tea, obtained from an earlier phase of the green tea without passing through other processes, it is a sensitive and selective infusion.

All the dry products called tea are obtained from the Camellia sinensis L. species , and it is the most consumed beverage in the world after water .

The plant is native to southern China, India, Laos, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam, areas characterized by a hot and humid climate with abundant rain, acidic and well-drained soils.

The types of tea are distinguished mainly from the botanical variety of Camellia sinensis L. and the production process, from which they can be distinguished between:

  • Fermented teas ( black tea and red tea )
  • Partially fermented tea (oolong tea)
  • Unfermented tea (green tea and white tea).

The main botanical variety used for white tea is Camellia sinensis var. sinensis . It is obtained from the leaves and young shoots not yet completely open of the plant, being collected only once a year, and ready for air drying immediately after collection. .

The young shoots, when they have not yet reached maturity, are at the upper end of the branch forming a terminal bud covered with a white fluff that will gradually take the cylindrical shape of the shoot.

While to make black tea the leaves go through 5 processes (wilting, rolling, screening, oxidation and drying), for white tea, the buds are only vaporized and dried.

The delicate and laborious collection and drying activity make white tea a select product. In ancient times, the production of white tea was destined exclusively for the emperor.

The absence of other processes leaves shoots practically unchanged, where the white fluff is distinguished, and the leaves with their natural silvery-white coloration. .

On the other hand, because they are unfermented teas, green tea (especially matcha tea obtained from green tea) and white tea have more antioxidant properties.

The infusion of white tea is of a pale color, fresh and smooth aroma, which takes about 7 minutes to prepare and is drunk (if possible) pure without any addition, such as sugar, milk or lemon.

Composition and active ingredients of white tea

Camellia sinensis L. leaves have a number of bioactive compounds, mainly antioxidant compounds, that give tea beneficial properties .

This antioxidant activity is mainly due to polyphenols with very interesting properties for our health, such as the ability to neutralize the damage caused by oxygen free radicals .

Polyphenols exhibit a wide variety of benefits in human health, with their extraordinary antioxidant activity, they help reduce the risk of degenerative diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular diseases.

In the composition of white tea, the main phenols are flavonoids, which can exceed 30% of their dry weight. The most abundant and active in white tea is epigallocatechin gelato and other derivatives of catechin.

Flavonoids are an extensive group of phenolic compounds that are responsible for the benefits attributed to tea, since they can control multiple regulatory pathways in the body involved in cell division, clotting, inflammation and the immune response.

All teas contain caffeine in different concentrations depending on the production process, with white tea having the least.

Unlike coffee , the participation of polyphenols in tea slows the rate of absorption of caffeine, so its effects take longer to be noticed but are longer lasting.

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White tea benefits

It has multiple applications in pharmaceutical and cosmetic products due to its antioxidant and antimicrobial activity, and is also widely used in:

  • Prevention of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, thanks to its activity as a cell protector against oxidative damage.

 

  • Prevention and constriction of the effects of cancer, cardiovascular diseases and arthritis , thanks to the action of chemical compounds with antioxidant activity on the initiation, promotion and progression of an abnormal and uncontrolled process of cell proliferation that can determine the development of diseases such as cancer.

 

  • Protection against damage caused by ultraviolet radiation to the skin, such as sunburn .

 

  • Improves sperm mobility, being used in assisted reproduction treatments for male fertility problems .

 

  • Increased concentration and memory , fighting physical and mental fatigue.

 

  • Prevention of obesity, helping to reduce the mass of adipose tissue and increase energy expenditure, so it is recommended for weight loss diets .

 

  • Improved bone remineralization and lower risk of fractures, especially in women, thanks to the estrogenic effect derived from its phytoestrogen content, and the strong affinity of polyphenols with metals.

 

  • Protection of oral health and prevention against cavities , thanks to the high content of fluoride.

Possible contraindications

Although it is a natural product with very little processing and does not have specific contraindications, it is recommended to take some precautions in specific cases .

On the one hand, special attention is required with respect to the alkaloids present in white tea, such as caffeine, even though white tea contains even less than green tea, which makes it an infusion not recommended for minors, pregnant women and hypertensive people .

Due to the presence of tannins, it is not recommended in people with ailments related to ulcers, heartburn or constipation, as well as avoiding consuming it on an empty stomach or before eating.

It is not recommended to consume white tea with food, because it could alter the absorption of iron , especially from plant sources.

It can interfere with the anticoagulant effects of some medicines, with sibutramine, and it can be specifically allergenic, especially if the marketed product contains additives.

 

Sources:

  • “Antioxidant activity of white tea and lemon residues: optimization of extraction and applications in meat and active packaging”, Sara Peiró Sánchez. Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Barcelona. 2015.
  • “Characterization of the phenolic composition and antioxidant capacity of tea ( Camellia sinensis ) in products of different brands marketed in Chile”, Francisco José de Feria Cardet. Faculty of Agronomic Sciences, University of Chile. 2011
  • “Tea”, Angela Lorena Ortiz Hurtatis. Food Technology, Universidad del Valle. 2007
  • “Tea consumption and health: Characteristics and beneficial properties of this millenary drink”, Alfonso Valenzuela B. Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology, University of Chile. 2004

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