Traditional Japanese Healing Arts Articles

The Health Benefits of Green and White Tea

Tea is by far the most widely consumed beverage in the world and is enjoyed by people in every country. Regardless of the variety, all tea is an infusion made from the leaves of Camellia Sinensis.

Green teas are subject to a variety of processing methods, which may include steaming, pan roasting and rolling. Black and Oolong teas are further processed through fermentation. By contrast, white tea refers to tea in its raw, natural state. After picking, the leaves are simply arranged and allowed to dry, without processing. White and green teas both contain antioxidants and other valuable nutrients, some of which are diminished during the fermentation process involved in making black teas.

Another important nutrient in tea, particularly in green and white tea, is L-theanine, an amino acid which produces a feeling of calmness together with increased mental clarity and alertness. Theanine content is highest in young, tender leaves and diminishes as the tea leaves mature.

Green and white teas are delicate. Excessive water temperature (above 170 degrees, 77 C) or over brewing will cook the leaves, producing a bitter flavor with excessive caffeine and tannins. This diminishes the experience of calmness and clarity produced by a properly brewed cup of tea. So, the secret of getting the health benefits of green or white tea, along with a delicious taste, which is calming to the mind, is to brew your tea with cooler water, ideally around 160 degrees.

Here are a few of the remarkable health benefits of drinking green and white.

Antioxidants - The antioxidants in green and white tea help to protect cells from damage linked to cancer, as well as aging.

Heart Health - Green and white tea reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by helping to lower cholesterol and blood pressure and clean out the arteries.

Weight Loss - Green tea promotes weight loss. Four cups a day can help you burn 70 to 150 extra calories per day. That's 7 to 15 pounds in a year. If you are on a healthy diet, exercise regularly and drink green tea, it's unlikely you'll be overweight.

Reduced Sugar Consumption - Green and white tea help reduce sugar cravings. As a result, people who drink green and white tea tend to consume less sugar.

Brain Function - Green and white tea help to boost memory and slow the decline of acetylcholine in the brain, which is a contributing factor in Alzheimer's. In addition, the antioxidants and the L-theanine in green and white tea can prevent cell damage in the brain and increase dopamine production. Both of these factors can protect against Parkinson's disease, or help to reduce symptoms for those who have it.

Immune Function - There is evidence that the polyphenols and flavenoids in green and white tea help to regulate the immune system, thus increasing resistance to viruses and infections, as well as calming an overactive immune systems.

Oral Health - Green and white tea reduce bacteria in the mouth, which contribute to many dental diseases as well as bad breath.

Mental Health - L-theanine, an amino acid in green and white tea, produces a calming effect which can reduce stress and anxiety.

For loose leaf green teas, I recommend high quality Dragon Well (Long Jing) or Japanese Sencha. For loose leaf white teas, I recommend Silver Needle or White Peony. If you prefer to use tea bags, I recommend the following brands: Choice, Tazo, Numi or Celestial Seasonings.

Basic Brewing Guidelines: For most green and white teas, I suggest water temperature around 160 degrees (72 C). For green tea, place a level teaspoon of loose tea in a mesh infuser, in a 10 oz mug, and add about 8 oz of hot water. Cover the mug and let stand for 2 to 3 minutes. This is where trial and error comes in. Every tea is different and everyone has different taste. But in general, longer brewing time will increase the bitterness and caffeine content. For white teas, use a full tablespoon of loose tea, 160 degree water and brew for 5 to 7 minutes.

After the first brewing, don't throw away those tealeaves! For both green and white teas, you can make 2 or even 3 infusions, each with their own qualities of taste and health benefits.