The difference between white tea and other teas that come from the Camellia sinensis plant like black, Oolong, and green tea is that white tea is made from the buds and young leaves, whereas other teas are made from mature tea leaves. The young leaves and buds may be shielded from the sun, so chlorophyll may not be formed in them yet. This results in these young leaves and buds containing high concentrations of catechins.
Catechins are powerful antioxidants that are thought to help fight tumors and boost the immune system. White tea is the best source of catechins, and green tea is second best. This is because white tea undergoes very little processing and green tea is only fermented a little bit.
White tea is produced in China, Japan, and India, but mainly in China and it is a specialty of the Fujian province. After harvesting the young leaves and buds, they are steamed then dried almost immediately after plucking. The minimal processing results in added health benefits in this tea. In other teas, the catechins are altered in their processing, while in white tea the catechins more than likely remain in their natural state.
Since it is primarily produced in one place, and because it is made of buds, it is much more rare than most other teas, and also more expensive. The flavor is also different from green, Oolong, and black tea – it is described as sweet and light.
If you’re drinking tea for antioxidants, this might be the healthiest choice. Also, it contains less caffeine than black, Oolong, and green tea.
There are different varieties to choose from and you can also recognize it under these lovely names: silver needle, golden moon, white peony, and white cloud.