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Benefits Of White Tea Versus Green Tea: Which Is Better?

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Benefits Of White Tea Vs Green Tea

Both white and green tea have their share of ardent fans who swear by the health benefits from drinking a cup of their brew of choice. With greater antioxidant content than green tea, white tea may just edge out the competition when it comes to prevent aging skin, improve heart health, and reduce your risk of chronic disease like cancer, arthritis.

White tea and green tea have become increasingly popular the world over for their many benefits for your health – from photoprotection to possible cholesterol lowering and heart healthy effects. While green tea has been studied extensively for its applications to holistic health care, white tea is treated with much reverence due to its loftier pricing and delicate flavor. According to research, white tea may contain higher levels of antioxidants than green tea, something that could make a difference when it comes to health benefits from having these teas.

What’s The Difference Between White Tea And Green Tea?

The difference between white tea and green tea isn’t just a matter of color. Both teas are made from the same Camellia sinensis plant but the difference lies in how they are processed, and consequently their nutritional and health benefits. White tea is made from the young buds and first leaves of the plant, while green tea uses leaves that appear later. The former is just steamed and dried, undergoing less processing than green or black teas. Green tea on the other hand, needs the leaves to first be withered. Next, they can either be steamed like white tea, or pan fried. After this they are rolled and shaped before being dried to create the final product.1 The Chinese however, believe that only tea made from a sub-species of the tea shrub from the Fujian province can truly be called white tea. They also say it is a seasonal (springtime) crop and view it as one with special health benefits.2 With less processing, you’d expect white tea to be better for health than green tea. But is this true? Here’s a look at the how the health benefits from the two stack up.

Photoprotection From UV Rays

Green and white tea have both been studied for their ability to protect your skin from UV ray linked damage due to sun exposure. The question of whether one is better than the other led some researchers to investigate the effects of the topical use of both kinds of tea extracts on preventing oxidative damage due to UV radiation exposure, a precursor to carcinogenesis and immunosuppression. They concluded that there was no significant difference in how much protection white and green tea extracts offered, suggesting that both had potential as photoprotective agents alongside traditional sun protection methods.3

Fight Aging

Green Tea: Ward off wrinkles and keep skin looking youthful by tapping the benefits of the polyphenols, antioxidants found in both white and green tea. The ECGC (epigallocatechin gallate) can help you fight telltale signs of aging. Because the processing in white tea is less, there is a view that they likely contain higher levels of polyphenols as well, not lost during processing.

White Tea: One study found that white tea could help prevent enzymes responsible for breaking down collagen and elastin, thereby protecting your skin and reducing the chance of wrinkles. Hence, white tea is a better choice over green tea if you want to look younger. It is more like a fountain of youth in a cup.4

Reduce Risk Of Rheumatoid Arthritis

White Tea: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an inflammatory condition that causes notoriously painful joints and aches and pains for those afflicted, may be helped by white tea. Research has already found that antioxidant intake through diet is inversely related to the incidence of RA as well as inflammation.5 The tea is said to act by suppressing the action of enzymes collagenase and elastase, and oxidants that are behind RA. In one study of anti-collagenase, anti-oxidant, and anti-elastase activity of 21 different plant extracts, researchers found that white tea had high levels of both anti-collagenase and anti-elastase activity.

Green Tea: It showed lower levels of both even though it was among the better performers on anti-collagenase activity compared to other extracts tested. 6

Though white tea is made from the same plant that produces green tea, its anti-inflammatory properties are higher than green tea.

Cancer Protection

Tea, both green and white, is said to help offer a degree of protection against cancer. While this on its own is no magic shield, it can be part of a holistic approach to reducing your lifestyle factor related risk of developing various cancers. Research on colon cancer in particular, has been promising. One test demonstrated that white tea prevents the proliferation of colorectal cancer cells and also protects normal healthy cells from DNA damage.7

White Tea: Some research suggests that the less processed a tea is, the greater its degree of anticarcinogenic and antimutagenic action. And since the polyphenols or antioxidants in tea are closely associated with these actions, it comes as no surprise that studies have found that white tea has more polyphenols in it than other teas.8

Lower Cholesterol

Polyphenols are antioxidants present in both white and green tea. Research has shown that antioxidant intake can help fight atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease.

Green Tea: Some say that green tea even has cholesterol and triglyceride lowering effects and can cut risk of heart disease.9 The phenolic content of white tea is said to be higher than other kinds of tea. And it’s these catechin derivatives that are responsible for much of the health boosting effects.10

White Tea: In one study, researchers found that the TEAC or Trolox Equivalent Antioxidant Capacity, a standard measure of antioxidant capacity of white tea (for a 6.25 μg portion) was found to be ~21 μM Trolox. This was the highest activity of all the tested extracts it was compared to, including green tea.11

Give Yourself A Boost

If you’re feeling worn out and need a pick-me-up, a cup of tea can help. But which one is likely to give that instant lift? In general, white tea contains more caffeine and should give you that boost you seek a little more than green tea does. Keep in mind, though, that there is also a contrasting view that caffeine levels in white tea could be lower!

One study specifically evaluated caffeine content of different teas by multiple methods and found that white tea had higher caffeine levels compared to green teas. While the teas in this study had caffeine content of the white tea at 4.55% and that of the green tea at 2.04%, it is important to note that this can vary tremendously depending on the brand of tea you’re using.12

The caffeine levels, coupled with the delicate almost sweet fragrance of white tea makes it a milder and more easily palatable choice that can refresh you. Green tea which can have lower caffeine levels is more of an acquired taste.

References   [ + ]

1. Santana-Rios, Gilberto, Gayle A. Orner, Adams Amantana, Cynthia Provost, Shiau-Yin Wu, and Roderick H. Dashwood. “Potent antimutagenic activity of white tea in comparison with green tea in the Salmonella assay.” Mutation Research/Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis 495, no. 1 (2001): 61-74.
2. Hilal, Y., and U. Engelhardt. “Characterisation of white tea–Comparison to green and black tea.” Journal für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit 2, no. 4 (2007): 414-421.
3. Camouse, Melissa M., Diana Santo Domingo, Freddie R. Swain, Edward P. Conrad, Mary S. Matsui, Daniel Maes, Lieve Declercq, Kevin D. Cooper, Seth R. Stevens, and Elma D. Baron. “Topical application of green and white tea extracts provides protection from solar‐simulated ultraviolet light in human skin.” Experimental dermatology 18, no. 6 (2009): 522-526.
4, 6, 11. Thring, Tamsyn SA, Pauline Hili, and Declan P. Naughton. “Anti-collagenase, anti-elastase and anti-oxidant activities of extracts from 21 plants.” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 9, no. 1 (2009): 27.
5. Hitchon, Carol A., and Hani S. El-Gabalawy. “Oxidation in rheumatoid arthritis.” Arthritis Res Ther 6, no. 6 (2004): 265.
7. Hajiaghaalipour, Fatemeh, M. S. Kanthimathi, Junedah Sanusi, and Jayakumar Rajarajeswaran. “White tea (Camellia sinensis) inhibits proliferation of the colon cancer cell line, HT-29, activates caspases and protects DNA of normal cells against oxidative damage.” Food chemistry 169 (2015): 401-410.
8, 10. Dias, T. R., G. Tomás, N. F. Teixeira, M. G. Alves, P. F. Oliveira, and B. M. Silva. “White tea (Camellia sinensis (L.)): antioxidant properties and beneficial health effects.” Int. J. Food Sci. Nutr. Diet 2, no. 2 (2013): 19-26.
9. Green tea. University of Maryland Medical Center.
12. Komes, Draženka, D. Horzic, A. Belscak, K. Kovacevic Ganic, and A. Bljak. “Determination of caffeine content in tea and maté tea by using different methods.” Czech J. Food Sci 27 (2009): S213-S216.