White tea is gaining more popularity than its “siblings”. Chefs and medical researchers are hailing white tea’s delicate flavor and reported health benefits; thus turning white tea into one of the hottest new food trends and quickly outrunning its other tea counterparts.
Believe it or not, but a few decades ago, we used to call TEA as a “hot drink for the oldies“; and there was only one variety known to us, the pale brown tea. But presently, it has evolved to so many other kinds of tea and served ice-cold, too; and now more broadly patronized by the young. Times are really changing. ^__^
Now, there are four common types of tea, namely: white, green, oolong and black; all of which come from the same Camellia Sinensis tea plant . Their varied colors are a result of the process that tea goes through; which means that one process brings out a different color. Now we won’t wonder why there’s a wide variety of colored ready-to-drink tea brands in the market.
White tea has a very delicate airy aroma and a fruity taste; contains polyphenols, a phytonutrient responsible for the health benefits it gives. It is said to be the most rare and delicate and has more powerful antioxidants than the rest. It is made mostly from the ‘buds’ or immature, unopened leaves of the tea plant which has to be hand-picked before fully open and requires delicate handling, making it very time consuming and costly; hence, making it more expensive than other processed tea. But the processing of the white tea itself is simple; whereas instead of air-drying, the unwithered leaves are merely steamed.
Some manufacturers of white teas have come up with hay or milk chocolate flavor, blended or flavored it with fruit, flowers and herbs like mint; somehow catching the attention and interest of the consumers. Many green and black tea drinkers have switched to white tea despite its higher price.
Green tea is made from the mature leaves of the same Camellia Sinensis tea plant. While green tea is usually vegetal and tastes either sweet or bittersweet, its mellow taste is due to leaves not being fermented at all; just made to wither in hot air and fast- steamed or pan-fried after which it is gently rolled and undergoes final heating to stabilize the tea’s natural flavor.
Black tea, also made from the mature leaves of the same Camellia Sinensis tea plant, derives its dark color and full flavor from a complex fermentation process that involves exposing crushed tea leaves to the air for a strictly defined number of minutes.
Oolong tea, also from mature leaves of the same plant, requires that the leaves be processed directly after picking to undergo partial fermentation which produces a distinct reddish color and a flowery flavor. It is produced through a unique process including withering under the strong sun and oxidation before curling and twisting.
Health benefits to be gained from drinking tea include : antioxidants, has lesser caffeine, protects the bones, improves metabolism, reduces risk of stroke and heart attacks, boosts immune defenses, protects against cancer, good for hydration, contains fluoride which strengthens the teeth, and is calorie-free.
However, what makes white tea trendy and popular?
- First and foremost, just having an exotic appearance or source doesn’t explain white tea’s sudden surge in popularity. What makes it popular nowadays is its being a pale tea with a sweet, silky flavor without the grassy after taste frequently associated with green tea.
- More over, recent studies revealed that white tea is truly better for us because of the simple process it undergoes; meaning the more tea leaves are left close to their natural state means that it contains more polyphenols, that powerful anti-oxidant which fights and kills cancer-causing cells, than its tea counterparts.
- Another study in 2004 at Pace University also revealed that white tea helps our body’s immune system to fight off viruses and bacteria; and that white tea is rich in fluoride, thus helps prevent growth of dental plaque which is the teeth’s top enemy.
That said, let’s start taking tea everyday!