White Tea Benefits: 11 Health Benefits Worth Sipping On

By | July 21, 2022

Not only will it make you feel like you’re lunching in Downton Abbey (porcelain cup and white tablecloth optional), white tea also comes with a number of health benefits. Here’s the scoop.

Like pretty much all your fave teas (including black, green, and oolong), white tea is made from the Camellia sinensis plant, a member of the evergreen fam with cute little white flowers.

Its leaves and buds are picked just before they bloom. Then they’re withered, dried, crushed up, and transformed into that perf, delicate cup of white tea.

This method of minimal processing prevents oxidation, which is why white tea has such a light, floral flavor. It also helps preserve antioxidants.

So, should you be adding more of the white stuff to your afternoon tea parties? Probably! Not only will it make you feel like you’re lunching in Downton Abbey (porcelain cup and white tablecloth optional), it also comes with a number of health benefits, including:

1. Has lots of antioxidants
2. May improve your heart health
3. Could help you maintain a healthy weight
4. Might support healthier teeth
5. Has anticancer properties
6. Improves insulin resistance
7. May boost bone health
8. Promotes healthy skin
9. Could improve brain health
10. May boost hair health
11. Aids in relaxation

person pouring a cup of white tea
Audrey Shtecinj/Stocksy United

White tea benefits

1. Has lots of antioxidants

White tea’s loaded with polyphenols called catechins — aka plant-based molecules that act like antioxidants in the body. Antioxidants protect cells from damage (from things like UV radiation and aggressive pathogens) caused by compounds called free radicals.

Since lots of free radical damage is linked to probs like premature aging, chronic inflammation, and a weakened immune system, it might be worth filling up your cup with some white tea. In a 2020 review, researchers outlined the anti-microbial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, and anticancer effects of catechins. Basically, they’re pretty legit for your overall health.   

And according to research from 2008, white and green tea seem to be the best when it comes to fighting off free radicals, prob due to their higher catechin content.

A couple of test-tube studies had some promising results, too: One from 2011 found that white tea powder was very effective at reducing inflammation caused by free radicals in human skin cells. Another from the same year found that white tea extract helped prevent animal nerve cells from free radical damage.  

2. May improve your heart health

Full cup, happy heart? Maybe. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., and those handy polyphenols found in tea are linked to its prevention.

According to research from 2013, the polyphenols found in white tea might help relax blood vessels and boost immunity. In fact, in a 2013 review of five studies, scientists concluded that those who drank 3+ cups of tea per day had a 21 percent lower risk of heart disease. Subjects in the study drank all types of tea — but since white tea has one of the highest polyphenol levels, it’s a solid bet for your heart health.

Reminder: There are *lots* of lifestyle and diet factors that contribute to heart health. White tea is just one of them.

3. Could help you maintain a healthy weight

Everyone always raves about green tea for weight loss, but it looks like white tea is just as good.

Both white and green tea have similar levels of caffeine and catechins, which scientists think may work together to create a fat-burning effect. They also both have one MVP catechin in particular called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is a compound in green tea linked to increased fat burn.

A 2010 review of several studies found that white tea could help boost your metabolism and aid in fat oxidation. Researchers even go as far as to say that drinking white tea on the daily could lead to a 4 to 5 percent metabolism boost — or the equivalent of burning an extra 70 to 100 cals per day.

A 2009 test-tube study also found that the EGCG in white tea extract helps stimulate fat breakdown and prevent new fat cells from forming.

Maybe because white tea’s not as popular as green, there’s less research out there on it so far — but the findings so far are pretty promising.

4. Might support healthier teeth

Could white tea help brighten your smile? Some evidence suggests that it might.  

White tea’s a legit source of fluoride, which helps strengthen teeth and prevent cavities. Plus, the catechins in white tea help inhibit bacteria growth and plaque.

Tannins are another type of polyphenol found in white tea. When combined with fluoride, tannins help increase teeth’s acid resistance, therefore helping keep teeth strong and cavity-free.  

5. Has anticancer properties

Okay, we’re def not saying that sipping on white tea on the reg can cure cancer. But it might play a small part in preventing it.

In one test-tube study from 2010, white tea extract caused cell death in multiple types of lung cancers. Two more test-tube studies from 2007 and 2015 found that white tea extract inhibited the growth of colon cancer cells and stopped them from spreading. The antioxidants in the extract also protected normal cells from damage.

Note: We need more research on real people before we can draw any conclusions (or start chugging vats of white tea).

6. Improves insulin resistance

Could sipping on white tea keep diabetes at bay? Maybe.

In a 2013 review of 17 studies of over 1,100 people, scientists concluded that the molecules in tea, like polyphenols, significantly reduced insulin and blood sugar levels in participants.

In a 2011 animal study, researchers found that white tea could lower the risk of insulin resistance. An older study from 2002 also found that the polyphenols in white tea enhance insulin activity and help prevent high blood sugar.

We need more research to understand the connection. But since insulin resistance is a common prob and linked to lots of chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome, it may be worth adding more tea to your daily routine.

7. May boost bone health

Research shows that free radicals and chronic inflammation can accelerate the development of osteoporosis (aka a common health condition that causes the bones to weaken).

According to a 2020 review, EGCG, the catechin found in abundance in white tea, strengthens bones and helps prevent the risk of fractures.

Test-tube studies from 2004 and 2009 had similar findings, concluding that EGCG seems to suppress the osteoporosis-causing cells that break down bones.

While we need more research on actual people to know if white tea could prevent osteoporosis or strengthen your bones for real, there could be something there.

8. Promotes healthy skin

Due to its skin-strengthening properties, green tea is found in tons of skin care products, from face masks to cleansers. The beauty industry just might wanna branch out though because, for the most part, white tea contains the same skin-boosting properties as green tea.   

According to 2020 research, catechins help prevent and reduce skin damage, activate collagen synthesis, and inhibit the production of harmful enzymes. In a 2021 study, researchers found that while white tea extract didn’t accelerate wound healing in rats, it did have a protective effect against wrinkles, sunburn, and UV damage.  

In a 2009 study, researchers found that applying white tea extract to the skin helped protect against the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays.

9. Could improve brain health

Here EGCG goes again: This time, boosting your brain.

A 2016 review of 26 studies of more than 52,500 people found that drinking tea (any kind but herbal) was linked to a 35 percent lower risk of brain disorders like Alzheimer’s.

Meanwhile, a 2016 review of 8 studies of over 5,600 people found that those who drank tea had a 15 percent lower risk of Parkinson’s disease than those who didn’t.

According to a 2017 review, EGCG, the principal bioactive component of white tea, has anti-inflammatory properties that may support brain health. However, researchers note that more research needs to be done before we draw any conclusions about using it to treat or prevent Alzheimer’s.

10. May boost hair growth   

Lots of things that tend to be good for our skin also are good for our hair — and white tea’s no exception.

In a 2007 test-tube study, researchers concluded that EGCG promoted hair growth in the human hair follicle cells. So, there’s a chance it could do the same thing on a real human’s hair.   

EGCG’s anti-inflammatory and free radical protecting properties might also make locks shine.

11. Aids in relaxation

There might be a legit reason you feel so relaxed after sipping on that tea.

Green tea and white tea are known to have the highest levels of L-theanine, an amino acid linked to better cognitive function. In a small 2019 study of 30 people, researchers found that participants’ stress scores decreased after 4 weeks of consuming L-theanine.

Another small study from 2016 found that consuming 200 mg of L-theanine alongside smaller doses of other substances like chamomile led to lower stress responses from participants one hour later.

Even though both of these studies are pretty small, it might be worth sipping on some white tea to try to take the edge off.  

White tea side effects

Don’t gulp down kettles full of white tea just yet — it’s true what they say about everything in moderation.

White tea has about 6-55 mg of caffeine per 250 mL cup. It’s a lot less than a cup of coffee on average, but this figure can vary a lot based on factors like the type of tea, the temp of the water, and how long you steep it.  

According to the FDA, consuming up to 400 mg of caffeine isn’t generally associated with any dangerous or negative effects. However, they note that everyone’s different, and some may be more sensitive to caffeine than others. Certain meds and conditions can also affect how you respond to caffeine.

Side effects of too much caffeine include:

So, if you’re feeling; jittery or just not sure how much caffeine is right for you, talk with your doc.

How to brew white tea

Ready to try white tea for yourself? Here are some common types:

  • Silver needle. Silver needle has a light, golden color and sweet floral aroma.
  • White peony. White peony has a nuttier taste and is often used in blends with other teas. It’s a little darker and stronger than silver needle (and therefore also has more caffeine).
  • Monkey-picked. Supposedly once picked by monkeys — now it’s just supposed to mean that it’s picked at its peak time, or a high quality tea.

The pros recommend brewing white tea at a relatively low temp and steeping for a shorter time than other teas to preserve its delicate flavor. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Heat water until it’s not quite boiling, or around 175 to 190 F.
  2. Measure out about a teaspoon to a tablespoon of tea leaves per cup (if not using a tea bag). The pros say that if the tea is made of compact buds, use closer to a teaspoon. If it’s looser leaves, go for about a tablespoon.
  3. Steep for 1-5 mins. Some types might taste bitter if brewed for too long, so figure out your personal sweet spot.
  4. Enjoy!

Takeaway

White tea is full of antioxidants and is overall a super healthy drink. Studies point to a host of benefits, including its anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and heart-healthy effects.

Like with any caffeinated bevvie, it’s best enjoyed in moderation. Even though it has lower caffeine than darker-hued teas, it’s still possible to overdo it.   

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.