When you drink white tea, you may lose weight. And if you drink it without any caloric sweetener, it sure won't make you gain weight.
Researchers in Germany showed in experiments reported in the June 2009 issue of Nutrition & Metabolism that white tea stops the generation of new fat cells and at the same time stimulates the burning of fat. When they grew human fat cells in a laboratory, they also found that after treating them with an extract of white tea, those cells had less fat in them.
Led by nutritionist Marc Winnefeld of the German health food company Beiersdorf AG, the researchers reported their findings as "White Tea extract induces lipolytic activity and inhibits adipogenesis in human subcutaneous (pre)-adipocytes." The free full-text of the provisional PDF is online.
White tea come from the buds and first leaves of the same plant from which we get black and green tea. But instead of rolling and fermenting the tea, growers only lightly steam the delicate buds or the first leaves. So white tea keeps more of its health-giving properties. Dr. Winnefeld and his colleagues think that it's the high level of the antioxidant called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) and the phytochemicals called theobromine and caffeine remaining in the white tea that makes the difference.
When you brew white tea, it has a golden hue. White tea gets its name from the downy white fur that covers the unopened bud.
The best white tea comes from the province of Fujian on the southeast coast of China. The highest grade is Silver Needle or, in Chinese, Bai Hao Yinzhen. Then comes White Peony or Pai Mu Tan (sometimes spelled Bai Mu Tan). Several other grades of white tea are, in my experience, also excellent.
For your good health and taste be sure to get the best white tea you can afford. Until now the main health benefit I sought from drinking white tea was its anti-cancer properties, which may be even greater in white than in the more common green tea.
For years I have been buying my white tea online from Upton Tea Imports in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. Many vendors, including Peet's Coffee & Tea, offer one or two white teas. But Upton Tea currently offers 17 choices from China alone. Some of them are organic, including their Pai Mu Tan.
My Current White Tea Choice
If you ever ordered white tea in a restaurant or brewed it yourself according to the standard procedure for brewing black tea, the result probably had a bitter taste. In my experience few people know how to brew white tea.
White tea requires more attention to detail that the easy-going requirements of black tea. The temperature of the water is crucial. It must be at 180 degrees or a little less to avoid a bitter result. I bring the water to a full boil, wait about 4 minutes at the mile-high elevation where I live, and then check the temperature with a thermometer.
I use 1 tablespoon of loose tea and steep it uncovered for 3 minutes. Using a mesh infuser basket works best for brewing a single cup of tea.
This high quality white tea properly brewed is naturally sweet. But I like it even better with a packet of stevia.
The researchers don't suggest how much white tea that we need to drink to get a weight-loss effect. But, clearly, more than a single cup a day is better. I try to drink at least three cups of white tea every day -- and have correspondingly cut back on the amount of coffee that I used to drink.
The new study is good news for us because almost all people with diabetes are overweight. Even those of us who have successfully shed our surplus pounds must fight every day to keep them off.