The health benefits of tea, especially green tea, have received a lot of attention during the past decade. The polyphenols in tea, especially epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, are attributed with most of tea’s beneficent properties. White tea, which is unfamiliar to many people, is prepared from the youngest and most delicate leaves of the tea tree, Camellia sinensis. Like other teas, white tea contains a variety of active constituents, including EGCG.
EGCG is an Effective Antioxidant
Oxidative cellular damage is presumed to be responsible for the general effects of aging, as well as many chronic diseases, such as cancer and arthritis. Innumerable studies have demonstrated EGCG’s antioxidant capabilities. A 2007 study in “Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica” demonstrated that white, black and green teas all reduce oxidative damage in red blood cells, but green tea was the most effective antioxidant.
White Tea in Weight Loss
Green tea has been touted as a useful weight loss agent, primarily in combination with other weight management tools. A 2009 study in “Nutrition and Metabolism” revealed that white tea possesses the same property. White tea extract effectively reduces the deposition of triglycerides in human adipocytes, or fat cells, and promotes the breakdown of fats. White tea’s EGCG was thought to be at least partially responsible for these observations.
Teas Vary Considerably in EGCG Content
Some people believe that teas can be graded according to their EGCG content, and that one “color” of tea contains more catechins than another. However, as was demonstrated in the August 2010 “Journal of Food Science,” the total catechin content of both green and white teas varies more than tenfold, and a considerable amount of overlap exists between the different types of tea. The authors of this study concluded that the source, cultivation and processing of a given tea may have more influence on its content of important constituents than whether it is green or white.
White tea is a good source of EGCG and is a viable alternative to green tea for people who seek a slightly different flavor but still want to take advantage of EGCG’s health benefits. Studies show that the two types of tea are essentially equivalent in their catechin content, depending on the tea’s source and processing. And, as shown in a 2008 “Journal of Analytical Toxicology” study, there is not an appreciable difference in caffeine content between green and white teas.
- “Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica”; The Effect of Green, Black, and White Tea on the Level of Alpha and Gamma Tocopherols in Free Radical-Induced Oxidative Damage of Human Red Blood Cells; M. Gawlik, A. Czajka; Mar-Apr 2007
- “Nutrition and Metabolism”; White Tea Extract Induces Lipolytic Activity and Inhibits Adipogenesis in Human Subcutaneous (Pre)-adipocytes; J. Söhle, et al.; 2009
- “Journal of Food Science”; White and Green Teas (Camellia sinensis var. sinensis): Variation in phenolic, methylxanthine, and antioxidant profiles; U.J. Unachukwu, et al.; August 2010
- “Journal of Analytical Toxicology”; Caffeine Content of Brewed Teas; J.M. Chin, et al.; October 2008