White Tea vs. Green Tea

2/26/20243 min read

bird's eye view of maze garden in white and green color
bird's eye view of maze garden in white and green color

Green tea, with its rich concentration of antioxidants, is now consumed by a great many health-conscious people around the globe. It is easy to see what is so captivating about it. Not only does it taste great, but it contains antioxidants in abundance, and it is not heavy on caffeine. Green tea would seem to be fast gaining in popularity. Now, however, tea time is taking another turn. This time it is going white. White tea is a tea leaf that is plucked before it has fully opened, without the buds having opened completely (these buds, in fact, are still covered by the fine white hairs that account for its name). For a comparison of white tea vs green tea, the crucial thing to know is that both are derived from the same plant, the tea plant Camellia sinensis. The distinguishing characteristic between the two types of tea is that the white tea leaves are picked at a younger age than the green tea leaves. Both experience very limited processing. White tea is not fermented, while green tea is slightly fermented. Black tea, in contrast, is fully fermented. The effect of this minimal treatment is that white tea and green tea maintain their high level of beneficial antioxidants.

Antioxidants While tea leaves contain antioxidants of course, the young, white tea leaves have higher concentrations of them than green tea. In fact, studies have shown that white tea retains a concentration of antioxidants that are three times greater than green tea. These antioxidants are actually what keep the young tea leaf from oxidizing and turning black. Essentially, white tea packs just as much antioxidant as those young, fresh tea leaf buds that are still part of the bush. This makes white tea not just a good tea to drink if you want highest antioxidant content, it makes white tea the tea with the highest antioxidant content, which for many people is the only reason to drink it in the first place. By comparison, one cup of white tea contains roughly twelve (12) times as many antioxidants as fresh orange juice. Flavor Of course, a major reason to drink any beverage is the flavor, and for many people, that would-be grassy aftertaste of green tea can be a no-go. White tea, however, with its young leaves, has a gentle, almost sweet and very subtle taste that is both smooth and silky. Its appearance, when correctly brewed, even mirrors the image of a young white wine with a pale gold color that you won’t see in green tea. Caffeine It’s also worth noting that white tea does in fact contain less caffeine than green tea, with approximately 15 mg per serving compared to 20 mg for green tea. So if it’s caffeine that’s got you too jittery to drink a regular cup of joe, the tea with the most antioxidants and the least caffeine (but not the least amount of flavor!) is going to be your best friend.

Price Since white tea comes from special bushes where it is hand plucked during only a few days of early spring and so tenderly treated, it is far less plentiful than other teas. So, it is much more costly, running as much as three times the cost of green tea for the best ones. But, little white tea is needed to get a fresh and potent infusion of the antioxidants which fortify the immune system and the body. A mere spoonful of white tea buds will steep about a quart (or liter) of white tea -- several times. In our experience, Adagio Teas currently offers what we consider the best combination of top flight white tea and prices you can afford.

By all means, drinking green tea daily is an excellent way to eventually get all of the antioxidants that you need into your system. But, being able to enjoy a pot of white tea every day is even better for you health and will put you ahead of the pack. So the choice is yours. Synopsis: White and green tea come from the same plant, but white tea is made from very young buds which are hand plucked. It has more antioxidants and less caffeine than green tea. The taste is much milder and it looks much paler and more 'tea neutral'.