White tea is the least processed tea and has the highest antioxidant levels. It may be the supreme Drink of Health. Antioxidants are nutrients that protect the body from damage by free radicals. Free radicals are nasty things that go around wreaking havoc on your body, damaging DNA and accelerating aging. Antioxidants scoop them up and neutralize them. White tea is loaded with these protective nutrients.
Of course, an exotic appearance alone doesn't explain white tea's sudden surge in popularity. The secret lies in what happens after the buds are plucked. Tea leaves destined to be sold as white tea undergo even less processing than green tea leaves. Instead of air-drying, the unwithered leaves are merely steamed.
The result? A pale tea with a sweet, silky flavor. People who have tried both note that white tea lacks the "grassy" aftertaste so often associated with green tea. Furthermore, studies indicate that white tea is better for you. Leaving tea leaves so close to their natural state means that white tea contains more polyphenols, the powerful anti-oxidant that fights and kills cancer-causing cells, than any other type of tea.
Need another reason to drink white tea? A 2004 study at Pace University concluded that white tea can help your body's immune system fight off viruses and dangerous infection-causing bacteria. The same study concluded that fluoride-rich white tea helps prevent the growth of dental plaque, the chief cause of tooth decay.
Of course, nothing in life is perfect. Expect to pay more for white tea than other tea types - up to $25 US for a 2-ounce tin (40 to 50 cups) of Silver Needles. And, while many tea shops are starting to carry white tea, shopping online is still your best bet for the more upscale varieties.