Know the Difference Between White Tea, Black Tea & Green Tea

By      29-Jul 2020       Reading Time: 12 Mins

Know the Difference Between White Tea, Black Tea & Green Tea

Calling out all the tea lovers? Bored from the regular masala chai? We’ve got a few options you could try out. 

White tea and black tea are prepared by infusing leaves of the same plant in hot water. What makes these teas so different from one another is the process that the tea leaves undergo before they reach you. White tea is lightly processed while black tea leaves undergo a longer process known as oxidation. 

Black Tea

A fan of a robust, bold flavor similar to coffee? While black tea is also a true tea made from the Camellia sinensis tea plant, it is vastly different in flavor, aroma, and color compared to white tea. That’s because black tea leaves are allowed to oxidize — a reaction that occurs when plant enzymes are exposed to oxygen — resulting in a stronger flavor and fuller body.

Black tea leaves are produced all across the world from China to England and the United States. Popular varieties include English Breakfast tea and Earl Grey tea — a citrusy black tea that contains bergamot rinds. Chinese varieties are more robust like Lapsang Souchong, which tastes and smells similar to a pine campfire; and gunpowder black tea, which offers strong notes similar to a cup of coffee. Popular black teas of India include Assam, Darjeeling, and masala chai.

Black tea leaves are harvested and dried under direct sunlight or using large fans for up to 18 hours. When the leaves begin to dry, they are laid out on large bamboo mats where they are gently bruised. Alternatively, some producers use machines to grind the leaves gently in a process called the CTC (Cut, Tear, Curl) Method. This allows the enzymes within the leaves to react with oxygen and due to the leaves getting oxidized, a deep brown or black color is developed.

The result is an oxidized tea that has earthy and woody notes. The tea is rich and strong, with flavors similar to coffee. It brews into a black or brown hue and has a robust aroma that can have hints of nutty and caramel flavors.

White Tea

Like floral, mildly sweet teas with an airy body, white tea is a true tea made from the leaves of the tea plant known as the Camellia sinensis plant. These plants are cultivated across the world, though white tea is largely made in China — in the Fujian Province — and Africa including in Kenya.

White teas are prepared using only the youngest tea buds and tea leaves of the tea plant, which undergo the least processing. The highest quality white teas are known as Silver Needle white teas, which use only the buds of the tea plant. The second-highest grade of white tea is known as White Peony and includes a blend of young leaves and buds of the tea plant.

White tea leaves are harvested and dried under direct sunlight in a process called withering. Once the moisture is removed from the leaves, the tea is packaged and is made ready for sale. White tea is the least processed true tea, offering a delicate and nuanced flavor profile. This tea provides sweet, floral flavors shrouded in a light and airy body. The tea brews into a pale yellow or light green color.

Green Tea

Like the floral, herbaceous taste in tea? Green tea is prepared by infusing green tea leaves in hot water. This is more similar to white tea than black tea. It is also produced largely in China and Japan, with regional variations that make each country’s green teas unique.

The tea leaves are harvested and sundried for up to 18 hours. The leaves then undergo and additional drying process, which allows the leaves to develop more grassy flavors. Chinese teas undergo a roasting or pan-firing process that creates green teas with earthy, grassy tastes. Japanese teas are dried using a steaming method that creates vegetal and herbaceous flavors.

Popular Chinese green teas include Gunpowder green tea and jasmine pearl green tea. The most famous Japanese green teas are matcha — a green tea made by pulverizing green tea leaves into a fine powder — and Genmaicha green tea. Genmaicha is a unique green tea as it is brewed with toasted, popped rice kernels that add a rich, warm, and roasted note to the tea.

Caffeine Content of White Tea VS Black Tea & Green Tea

Even true teas have caffeine. All true teas contain some amount of caffeine though it’s generally always less than a cup of coffee. White tea has the lowest caffeine content of all the true teas. In general, a normal-sized cup of white tea contains anywhere from 15 to 20 milligrams of caffeine. Green tea contains slightly more caffeine than white tea and less caffeine than black tea at 35 to 70 milligrams per serving. Matcha tea has higher amounts than other green tea since the tea is made of the entire ground tea leaf.

Black tea contains the highest concentration of caffeine among the true teas. A single serving of black tea contains between 60 and 90 milligrams of caffeine. That makes it a popular alternative to coffee and is the reason why black tea is so great at boosting energy levels and focus.

Benefits of Drinking Tea

Studies show that drinking tea may offer health benefits ranging from an improved immune system to better weight loss and decreased pain. These benefits are largely attributed to the presence of antioxidants known as catechins, tannins, and polyphenols. These compounds boast anti-inflammatory properties that can help improve circulation and decrease the risk of heart disease. The anti-inflammatory effects also help to reduce pain associated with muscle aches, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Additionally, true teas can help to boost weight loss results. First of all, these teas are a great replacement for unhealthy sodas and juices that can pack on the calories. Simply switching from sugar-laden drinks to green tea, white tea, or black tea can help decrease your caloric intake and may lead to improved weight loss results. Additionally, studies show that true teas may help to speed up metabolism and improve fat burning.

As all true teas are made from the same leaves, they contain many of the same vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are responsible for health benefits. The production process can affect the presence and integrity of these ingredients, but since tea processing differs from producer to producer and region to region, it’s hard to make a blanket statement as to which is healthiest.

Is One True Tea Healthier Than The Others?

While white tea, green tea, and black tea are true teas made using the same tea leaves — like oolong tea and pu-erh tea — they are vastly different thanks to unique production processes.

Different tea types have different health benefits. That means one tea that is well-suited for someone with other health goals may not work for your health goals such as improved weight loss or a boosted immune system. To find the perfect cup of tea for you, you’ll need to identify what fitness goals you want to accomplish and discover tea varieties that suit your specific needs.

For example, black tea is a good choice for people who want to boost their energy levels due to moderate caffeine levels present in the loose leaf tea. On the other hand, green tea contains higher concentrations of polyphenols that can help fight free radicals and boost immunity.

Over to you

The healthiest teas are the ones you enjoy and drink regularly. Generally, the health benefits of tea are most pronounced when people are drinking tea consistently for years. You can consume all different types of tea from herbal teas like chamomile and rooibos to true teas like white tea and black tea. Keep experimenting and discovering your favorite flavors and toast to a healthier life.

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