Studies have shown that green tea stimulates the immune system to fight disease, but white tea is even better for you? Apparently so.
A study presented last year at the American Society for Microbiology general meeting in New Orleans showed that White Tea Extract can actually destroy in vitro the organisms that cause disease. Some studies have also shown that white tea contains more active cancer-fighting antioxidants than green tea.
I gather this isn't new news. I searched a little further and found a study done Oregon State Univ back in May 2000 that showed that white tea has enhanced cancer-fighting potential, more beneficial to certain kinds of cancer, like prostrate cancer for instance, than green tea.
But I was kind of surprised. I've never heard of white tea. According to about.com:
"Just like those other teas, white tea come from the Camellia sinensis plant. But the leaves are picked and harvested before the leaves open fully, when the buds are still covered by fine white hair. Hence the name."
White tea has undergone very little processing and no fermentation, compared to green, black and oolong teas. The OSU folks say that's the key.
"Many of the more potent tea polyphenols ('catechins') become oxidized or destroyed as green tea is further processed into oolong and black teas," says Roderick H. Dashwood, Ph.D., a biochemist in the university’s Linus Pauling Institute and principal investigator of the study. "Our theory was that white tea might have equivalent or higher levels of these polyphenols than green tea, and thus be more beneficial."
Sounds great. That's a very good thing. Unfortunately, white tea is pretty rare, and therefore pretty expensive and hard to find. Also unfortunately (to me), there is also considerably less caffeine in white tea than the other varieties (15mg per serving, compared to 40mg for black tea, and 20mg for green, according to about.com). That's bad for an old caffeine cat like me. (And maybe explains why it's not more widely touted.)