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White Tea

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

white teaIf you want to savor a truly exotic product and partake of the ancient wisdom, you should certainly try white tea. White tea is a tea made with leaves that are processed in a manner to let them wilt slightly and lose the «grassy» taste of green tea, while undergoing minimal oxidation. Like green and black tea, white tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, cultivated mostly in China, in Fujian province, although recently this plant can be found in the Indo-Asian part of our continent, and in Africa. Twice a year, this shrub puts out tender young leaves, which are picked very quickly, within hours, and  processed in a certain way, otherwise the plant will lose both its incredible flavor and amazing healing properties.

It is noteworthy that the collectors of white tea buds and leaves are not allowed to consume any food that can leave a strong smell (like garlic, onions, alcohol, etc.) or smoke on the eve of picking. Otherwise, they can simply «kill» the natural flavor of white tea. For this reason, this work is mainly given to girls who do not drink alcohol or smoke.

So, white tea is made from immature tea leaves that are picked shortly before the buds have fully opened. The tea takes its name from the silver fuzz that still covers the buds, which turns white when the tea is dried. The exact proportion of buds to leaves varies depending on the variety of white tea. For example, White Peony contains one bud for every two leaves, while Silver Needles, the creme de la creme of white teas, is made entirely from downy buds picked within a two day period in early spring.

Of course, an exotic appearance alone doesn't explain white tea's sudden surge in popularity. The secret lies in what happens after the buds are plucked. Tea leaves destined to be sold as white tea undergo even less processing than green tea leaves. Instead of air-drying, the unwithered leaves are merely steamed for one minute or less and then dried.  

As a result, the tea has a sweet, silky flavor. People who have tried both note that white tea lacks the «grassy» aftertaste so often associated with green tea. Furthermore, studies indicate that white tea is better for you. Leaving tea leaves so close to their natural state means that white tea contains more polyphenols, the powerful anti-oxidant that fights and kills cancer-causing cells, than any other type of tea.

White tea is not «rolled» or heavily oxidized like black and green teas are, which is how it keeps such purity during processing. This is what is believed to give white tea such amazing and powerful health benefits. It can help to reduce high blood sugar, and thus help prevent or reduce the symptoms of diabetes. White tea will also reduce the workload on your body by giving a helping hand, thus improving your energy and reducing stress.

There are some studies that show that white tea may aid in losing weight, but there are also some contradictive studies that state otherwise. The reason for this is that white tea can increase your metabolism, which in turn helps your body burn more fat, but these effects are likely to be noticeable without the help of a good diet and exercise. Now you can see that white tea has much to offer your body in terms of health and nutrition. It harnesses a great ability to help reduce and prevent many ailments and diseases, and that is pretty powerful.

Heart disease, stroke, and heart attack, are the leading causes of death worldwide. White tea can help reduce the chance of suffering from any of these. White teal also reduces the symptoms of sickness, and it helps your body recover and get healthy again. Finally yet importantly, it can help your circulation and immune system, which in turn will help you avoid getting sick, and keep your skin nice and healthy.

Though harvesting and preparation of white tea does not require much effort, its price is fairly high. First of all, this is due to its multiple health benefits which are discussed above. Moreover, white tea contains many vitamins, especially ascorbic acid and B-group vitamins and antioxidants, protective nutrients that prevent the development of tumors. White tea may have profound power against cancer-causing cells and against many different types of cancer, such as colon, prostate, and stomach cancers. Flavonoids, a class of antioxidants, inhibit the growth of cancer cells and prevent the development of new ones. In some cases, white tea has been found to work as well as prescription drugs, but without the side effects.

In addition, white tea has been shown to kill the bacteria that cause plaque, tooth decay, and even bad breath. There is also a small amount of fluoride within white tea, which will help strengthen teeth.

White tea is also a natural killer of bacteria and viruses. The antioxidants so abundant in white tea tone the entire immune system, providing protection against a variety of invaders and a wide range of diseases. Its helps guard against the common cold and flu, and can ease the symptoms of HIV.

Unfortunately, Europeans and Americans can hardly enjoy the benefits of white tea, as it is poorly suited for transportation, though recently to preserve the healing power of the tea its dried leaves and buds are transported in special wrapping balls, the genuine flavor of white tea can not be preserved in this way. If you come across white tea in a paper packing, be sure it is either fake or white tea powder, which has nothing in common with the genuine white tea.

However, getting white tea is only part of the job, and not the hardest one. Generally, around 2 to 2.5 grams of tea per 200 ml (6 ounces) of water, or about 1.5 teaspoons of white tea per cup, should be used. White teas should be prepared with 80°C (180°F) water (not boiling) and steeped for 2 to 3 minutes. Many tea graders, however, choose to brew this tea for much longer, as long as 10 minutes on the first infusion, to allow the delicate aromas to develop. Finer teas expose more flavor and complexity with no bitterness. Lower grade teas do not always stand this test well and develop bitter flavors or tannins. On successive brews (white teas produce three very good brews and a fourth that is passable), extend the time by several minutes per brewing. The third brew may require as long as 15 minutes to develop well. Temperature is crucial: if it is too hot, the brew will be bitter and the finer flavors will be overpowered. Glass or porcelain, not metal, pot should be used for brewing white tea which would make brew looks much more tempting.

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