One of the most recent trends in Western tea drinking is white tea. Though white tea has been around for centuries, it has only recently become popular outside of the Asian world. And, even in China and Japan, where most white tea is grown, it was traditionally reserved for special occasions because of its rarity. Today, however, tea drinkers all over the world are enjoying white tea more and more.
White tea comes from the same plant as other teas, the camellia sinensis. But, it is harvested before the leaves are fully open and while the buds are still covered with fine white hair. This makes the tea leaves much mellower, resulting in a much milder tea than black and green teas. In addition to being harvested at a different time than other teas white tea undergoes very little processing, and is not fermented.
The leaves are simply steamed and then dried. Sometimes the leaves are even steamed and dried right in the tea fields and dried in the sun to protect the delicate flavor.
White tea’s flavor is much milder than black or green tea and it has a very delicate aroma as well. It brews to a very pale color and has a hint of sweetness. This mild flavor and aroma appeals to tea drinkers who might find black tea too heavy or green tea to have a bit of a grassy flavor.
Because of this, white tea has opened tea drinking to a whole new group of drinkers who may not have enjoyed tea before.
In addition to being delicious to drink, white tea is also very healthy. In fact, while few studies have been performed on white tea, it is believed to be even healthier than green tea. In the past, many studies have been done on green tea and its ability to slow the aging process and prevent serious diseases like cancer and heart disease.
The reason that green tea has been shown to prevent disease and slow down aging is because of its powerful anti-oxidant levels. Anti-oxidants are present in high levels in natural tea leaves, but the fermentation process changes these anti-oxidants, reducing their effectiveness.
Because green tea, like white, is not fermented it retains more of its natural anti-oxidants.
Therefore, if green tea is a disease preventer, white tea should be just as effective; perhaps even more effective.
In addition, some studies that have been performed on white tea indicate that it is extremely effective in improving the immune system. In particular, white tea seems to have the ability fight off bacteria and viruses. And, white tea is high in fluoride, so that it prevents tooth decay and inhibits the formation of plaque.
If you’ve never tried white tea, you should certainly purchase some for yourself and see if it appeals to you. White tea is much rarer than black or green; far fewer gardens grow it, and typically just one crop is grown each year.
However, particularly if you shop online, you can find very high quality white tea. Sample some Silver Needles or White Peony to get a good idea of what unadulterated white tea tastes like. It’s likely that you’ll find it a very refreshing beverage both cold and hot.
But, for even more variety, scope out the white tea blends. These teas offer a bit more flavor than a plain white tea because additional flavors are added to the tea. The addition of these flavors through the use of natural herbs can also make white tea even healthier. Consider these varieties:
Ginger White Tea – This tea combines rare white tea with the spicy flavor of ginger. White tea provides an incredible boost to the immune system, and ginger has long been heralded for its ability to calm the stomach. Ginger is effective for easing the nausea of morning sickness, motion sickness and the nausea that can be a side effect of chemotherapy.
The combination of immune boosting properties and nausea relief makes this a great gift for a friend who is pregnant or under chemotherapy for cancer.
White Licorice Tea – Another delicious white tea blend, this combination also offers the immune boosting quality of white tea with licorice, which is renowned for its ability to soothe coughs and act as an expectorant. Licorice also is soothing to the stomach. Licorice flavor is a wonderful complement to the delicate flavor of the white tea. When choosing white licorice tea, it’s important to choose a tea that has whole pieces of star anise to ensure the best and boldest licorice flavor.
White Persian melon Tea – This is one of the most refreshing white tea blends. The melon flavor makes the flavor of the tea a bit bolder and fruitier and complements the natural sweetness of the white tea. This is one of the best white tea blends for making iced tea.
As you shop around, you may find other delicious blends of white tea to further broaden your white tea experience. Be certain to choose only the highest quality teas with flavorful herbs to ensure that you get the best flavor in each and every cup.
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