Green Tea/White Tea

Posted by Jen | Food and Drink | Sunday 18 May 2008 5:00 pm

So, I picked up some white tea the other day. I have cut down on my coffee so much since starting this new eating plan in January and I have been switching to an occasional cup of tea. The reason I cut down on coffee is mainly for the calories. I don’t put any sugar in it, but I love my half and half. I was able to even cut that down to 1/8 cup of half and half and 1 tablespoon of fat free creamer, but the amount of calories (70) and the lack of healthy nutrition isn’t enough to allow myself to have it more than once a day. On my non-exercise days, I usually consume about 1325 calories and I need those 70 calories to spend on healthier foods.

So, anyway, I have been drinking green tea mostly, but saw some white tea in the store and vaguely remember Dr. Oz mentioning it on Oprah recently and thought I would buy some.

After a few days of drinking it, I began to wonder what the difference actually is between the two teas. The taste seems the same to me, personally, so what about the benefits?

Green Tea Benefits

  1. Rich in antioxidants or polyphenols (specifically, EGCG.)
  2. Lowers LDL cholesterol.
  3. Inhibits abnormal blood clotting.
  4. Kills bacteria.

1. Polyphenols are chemicals that have the possibility of fighting against some of our common health issues and may also inhibit certain signs of aging. They act as antioxidants in our bodies. When molecules in our bodies break down they have the possibility of breaking down in an unstable manner. They them roam the body as “free radicals” – atoms with missing electrons.
As they attempt to ‘steal’ electrons from other cells, these free radicals can cause damage to the body. (Stealing is just plain wrong!) This problem has been linked to cancer, aging, problems with the immune system, etc. Antioxidants fight free radicals. They ‘donate’ one of their electrons to the free radical and have the ability to remain stable by doing it. In turn, the free radical is also returned to a stable state.
The polyphenol most associated with preventing the growth of cancer is EGCG, which is found in all teas, but large quantities are found in green tea. Research has shown, however, that white tea has a significantly higher concentration of antioxidants than green tea. So, if this is your primary reason for drinking tea, you might want to switch to white.

2. As far as cholesterol is concerned, LDL is the bad cholesterol. (HDL is good..I remember it by saying “H” is for “healthy.”) LDL is the ‘oxidized’ form of cholesterol. As explained above, oxidation causes free radicals. Therefore, the anti-0xidant properties of Green Tea can help inhibit the LDL oxidation.

3. It has been known to inhibit abnormal blood clotting (which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.)

4. Supposedly, green tea can kill bacteria. Bacteria in our foods, in our mouths (to help with bad breath), and a certain antibiotic-immune strain of the staph germ.


White Tea Benefits
Supposedly nearly everything green tea can do, white tea does better.

  1. Greater concentrations of polyphenols (antioxidants)
  2. Possibly better anti-bacterial properties than green tea.
  3. Strong potential for fighting cancer.

1. As explained above, polyphenols are antioxidants. Antioxidants (especially the extremely powerful EGCG) can aid in the prevention of cancer. White tea has the higher levels of EGCG than green tea.

2. Pace University did a study in 2004 that provided evidence that white tea can provide protection against certain germs and viruses, including the harmful bacteria causing staph, strep and pneumonia. 1 They stated that green tea had already been proven to stimulate the immune system, but white tea can actually destroy some of these germs as they are forming. White tea was more effective

3. Researchers at Oregon State University discovered that white tea may have the strongest cancer fighting properties of all the teas they have tested. 2 The reason for this actually ties in with the fact that (as mentioned above) white tea has higher levels of polyphenols than the other teas. These polyphenols inhibited cell mutations, thereby reducing a person’s cancer risk, more effectively than green tea.
Oregon State also discovered that the consumption of white tea reduced the tumors in lab rats from 30 to about 13. The rats who actually consumed cancer-reducing drugs decreased their tumors from 30 to about 6. The fact that the natural properties of tea was able to make such a difference has definitely caught the attention of the medical community.

Other Notes

  • When drinking green tea or white tea, it has recently been discovered that adding a little bit of citrus juice can allow the antioxidants to remain available for absorption even after the tea exits the stomach. The reason for this is that some of the antioxidants chemicals become unstable when they are not in an acidic environment. After leaving the acidic environment of the stomach and entering the intestines, fewer of the antioxidant properties are available for further absorption. By adding citric juice (such as lemon or orange juice) it travels with the tea into the intestines and allows for better absorption. A Perdue University study found that citrus juice increased the tea’s antioxidant levels in the intestines by more than five times.3

All in all, I have switched to drinking nearly all white tea, with an occasional cup of green tea from time to time. (Mostly because green tea is a little less expensive and easier to find than white tea.) Since the studies on white tea are still new, I am always keeping an eye out for new updates and information about the tea. In the meantime, it sounds like there is enough positive to make it worthwhile to treat myself to a cup everyday.

References:

  1. American Society For Microbiology (2004, May 28). White Tea Beats Green Tea In Fighting Germs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 8, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­/releases/2004/05/040526070934.htm
  2. American Chemical Society (2000, April 13). Cancer-Preventive Potential Of White Tea. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 8, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2000/04/000410084553.htm
  3. Purdue University (2007, November 14). Citrus Juice, Vitamin C Give Staying Power To Green Tea Antioxidants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 8, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2007/11/071113163016.htm