White Tea Health Benefits and Side Effects

Written by: Christopher Karam | ✔️ Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Riad M., M.D - G.P and Micheal B., M.D | Last Updated: 2020 April 27

White tea is a loose leaf tea and is one of the most delicate teas in the world to process. It’s soft and light, with a subtle fragrance and slightly sweet floral flavor.

The level of caffeine in white tea is much lower than the amount found in coffee and other types of black teas because it avoids the oxidation process.

White tea was introduced in the Fujian province of China, it is said to have originated somewhere between 600 and 1300 A.D. At the time, tea drinking was exceedingly popular throughout the country.

pouring white tea into cups

During this time, citizens were forced to bring rare and fine white tea to the emperors each year to pay their tributes, a type of tea tax. Imperial tea gardens were developed in secret to cultivate Camellia Sinensis tea leaves in early spring.

Although white teas are generally overlooked due to its lack of popularity, it still has many health benefits accompanied by its delicious aroma.

Due to the subtle sweetness of Chinese white tea, it’s best if you drink it on an empty stomach. The strong aroma and taste of many foods would clash with the light flavor and likely overpower it, ruining the experience.

To get the most benefits out of your white tea, drink it between meals or every time you’re fasting.

Camellia Sinensis is one of the most popular types of tea plants. Camellia Sinensis is the only plant source for producing non-herbal teas such as white tea, along with earl grey tea, green tea, black tea, oolong tea, and Pu Erh tea.

Out of all herbal teas, white tea is prepared with minimal processing. Less processing means that white tea retains many of its natural plant properties and nutritional benefits such as flavonoids and flavanols, antioxidants, polyphenols, and catechins.

White tea is produced only using new, young tea buds and leaves of the Camellia Sinensis tea plant. These young leaves are gathered and allowed to wither and dry in direct sunlight or a controlled climate for 72 hours.

This drying process is used to prevent oxidation and increase it’s shelf life, hovering around a 1% moisture content before sending it for packaging and distribution.

The resulting product of this delicate drying process is a high-quality loose leaf white tea. Although other tea products have stronger flavors, white tea is much healthier and lighter than black or oolong tea.

The caffeine level in white tea is much lower than what’s found in herbal and black teas. Loose-leaf white tea contains 15 to 25 mg of caffeine per cup.

camellia sinensis leaves in a basket

Different Types of White Tea

The tea production used in these gardens is much different than the way we grow tea today. White tea can be categorized into 5 different types:

  • Silver Needle Tea - Bai Hao Yin Zhen

  • White Peony Tea - Bai Mu Dan

  • Tribute Eyebrow Tea - Gong Mei

  • Noble Long Life Eyebrow Tea - Shou Mei

  • Fujian New Craft Tea - Da Bai Cha or Da Hoa Cha

The silver needle variety is by far the most delicate and expensive version of white tea. It’s produced with the highest quality tea leaves, making it China’s favorite type of tea.

It’s long in shape with no tea leaves or stems and has silver needle looking tips (hence the name). Comprised of only the freshest tea buds handpicked in early spring.

It has a pale ivory color and a sweet fragrance resembling honeysuckle. The higher the quality of your loose leaf tea, the higher the caffeine level.

Although the quantity of caffeine in white tea is lower than other herbal teas, silver needle white tea has the highest percentage of caffeine at around 6.1% of caffeine.

White Peony or Bai Mu Dan is also a popular type of white tea that consists of high-quality Camellia Sinensis leaves and buds. The leaves are young and have silver-colored unopened leaves.

oolong green and white tea cups with tea leaves

White peony tea has the second-highest caffeine content at 5.7%. It’s more amber in color and has a nutty-like flavor with a slight fragrance of honey. Most white iced teas are made using white peony.

Tribute Eyebrow tea gets its name from the eyebrow shape of the leaves, which is more processed than silver needle and white peony teas.

It’s a lower grade tea and consists of only leaves, no tea buds. The color is darker, much fuller, and has a caffeine level for this white tea is 4.8%.

Noble Long Life Eyebrow is more oxidized than the others and is made from leaves and tips picked between April and June. It’s composed of leftover leaves deemed unsuitable for other higher quality teas.

The leaves are large and have a bold flavor. This tea is considered to be the most similar to oolong tea since it’s so oxidized. This white tea contains the least amount of caffeine sitting at 3.8%.

Fujian New Craft is the newest iteration of white tea, having only been in production since the 1960s. How do you make Fujian new craft white tea? It consists of three steps:

  • Withering

  • Rolling

  • Drying

This tea is a bit deceptive as it looks similar to black tea with the color of a green tea. And although it has a soft smell, it has the boldest flavor of any other herbal Chinese tea.

People tend to think that herbal teas come from actual herbs, but that’s not the case. Herbal tea refers to any tea product or ingredient that’s not made from the Camellia Sinensis plant.

The list of ingredients that are considered herbal teas, come from roots, fruits, bark, leaves, and even flowers fall under this category. Herbal teas include:

  • Chamomile tea

  • Ginger tea

  • Hibiscus tea

  • Echinacea tea

  • Fennel tea

  • Ginseng and ginseng tea

  • Thyme tea

  • Nettle tea

  • Cinnamon and cinnamon tea

  • Rooibos tea

  • Peppermint, mint, and peppermint tea

  • Sage and sage tea

fruity green tea on a marble table

White Tea Health Benefits

1. Improves Skin Health and Has Anti-Aging Properties

Acne and blemishes on your face are usually caused by excess oil produced by your skin that ends up clogging your pores with oil and getting infected.

White tea can help you get cleaner, softer, and clearer skin. Especially because white tea is rich in antioxidants and fights the free radicals that make your skin prone to premature ageing, damage, and dryness.

These antioxidants have powerful anti-ageing and anti-inflammatory properties that prevent internal oxidation and clears your skin’s external layer.

White tea has many health benefits for your skin, such as reducing redness and inflammation that can cause eczema, as well as scalp dryness that can cause dandruff.

Acne can also be caused by pollutants in the air, airborne bacteria, a poor diet, as well as harmful free radicals. Research suggests that drinking a cup of white tea will lead to healthier skin, just once or twice per day can greatly reduce your acne by up to 38%.

Another study showed that white tea can be either consumed as a tea or have a wet white tea bag physically applied to the troubled areas of your skin or face.

A physical application of white tea greatly increases the healing process of the infected or irritated areas of your skin. Additionally, a huge source of white tea’s anti-ageing health benefits comes from its large concentration of polyphenols and healthy plant-based compounds.

Polyphenols boost the production of collagen and elastin, giving your skin a healthier appearance, glow, and smooth texture. The abundance of polyphenols and flavonoids found in white tea reduces collagen degradation, increases collagen production, and cell regulators.

All of which increase skin regeneration, elasticity, softness, and metabolism which helps with weight loss.

pouring white tea in ceramic cup

2. Can Help Fight and Prevent Cancer

One of the most important health benefits of white tea is its link with cancer prevention. Cancer is one of the leading causes of deaths worldwide, predominantly in America.

Several medical studies have shown that drinking a cup of white tea may slow down and help fight off cancer, due to the antioxidants and anticancer effects of white tea.

The antioxidants and polyphenols in white tea may prevent the mutation of cells that cause types of cancer. The quantity of antioxidants in white tea is said to be even higher than any other tea.

Although the results of the studies are not definitive, there are clear links that white tea has the proven health benefit of helping fight and prevent cancer.

3. White Tea Causes Weight Loss

Weight loss and fat oxidation are the most visually impacting health benefits of white tea. Many people are looking for a way to lose weight, more specifically body fat and water weight.

Losing weight can extend your average lifespan, having a low body fat percent keeps your body in a healthy state.

A lower body fat level is 8% to 15% for males and 16% to 25% for females. Having a lower body fat level has the following health benefits:

  • Prevents multiple cardiovascular diseases

  • Decelerates brain degeneration

  • Reduces DNA and cell degeneration

  • Promotes high-quality sleep

  • Boosts energy levels

  • Improves your mood

Green tea is common the go-to non-herbal tea for weight loss, but studies prove that white tea is just as effective since they both come from the Camellia Sinensis plant, which is known for its benefits on weight loss.

camellia sinensis plant farm

White tea contains a lot of catechins. These catechins speed up digestive processes allowing for improved triglyceride levels and help target your visceral fat for oxidation, which directly causes weight loss.

If weight loss is your goal, drinking white tea benefits and compliments the process of losing weight since it can:

  • Speed up your metabolism

  • Improve nutrient absorption

  • Increases fat oxidation, which burns fat quicker

  • Catechins boost digestive health and increases nutrient absorption

4. Strengthens and Maintains Hair health

White tea has many plant-based compounds and nutrients that help keep your hair healthy.

The epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) antioxidant is known to promote hair growth, prevent premature hair loss, improve scalp health, and even used for chemoprevention hair loss prevention treatments.

EGCG also helps with scalp treatments for skin diseases caused by harmful bacteria, dryness, reduce inflammation, dandruff, acne, and eczema.

Additionally, white tea benefits your hair by preventing UV radiation damage from the sun in months when hair becomes easily dry and brittle, usually during summer and spring.

If you want a natural way to restore your hair’s natural shine, you can mix white tea with your shampoo or conditioner.

Make sure the water temperature isn’t too hot since hot water dries out your hair. Leave the mix in your hair for an additional minute to let the antioxidants and plant-based compounds settle into your hair.

5. Supports Strong Teeth and Strengthens Enamel

Regularly drinking white tea benefits your teeth in multiple ways, it contains plant-based ingredients to strengthen your teeth, gums, enamel, as well as prevents plaque build-up and bacteria.

pouring hot white tea in glass cup

White tea has multiple compounds such as tannins, catechins, and fluoride. All of which inhibit the buildup of plaque, fights off bacteria, and dissolves sugar residues in the mouth.

Studies show that tannins along with fluoride both inhibit the growth of bacteria that causes plaques, which are both necessary for having a set of bright white healthy teeth.

Contrary to popular belief, many health care professionals suggest taking green tea instead, since it’s known to be rich in antioxidants.

White tea is healthier for the average person compared to the other non-herbal teas, especially for pregnant or expecting women since it’s not processed. Keeping all of its antioxidants intact while having less caffeine than green tea.

6. White Tea Reduces Inflammation

Drinking a cup of loose leaf white tea can greatly reduce aches, pains, muscle strains, and sore joints caused by inflammation.

The reduced inflammation is due to the catechins, polyphenols, and theaflavins of white tea.

All of which contribute to the anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, as well as the prevention of neurodegenerative and cardiovascular disease effects of white tea.

A study including 1,000 Chinese men showed that white tea also improved blood circulation and oxygen absorption by the blood cells delivering nutrients to the brain.

Increasing oxygen to the brain reduces the number of headaches and blood pressure you may get. These health benefits are amplified by the caffeine found in white tea.

Reducing inflammation helps relieve muscle soreness and increases muscle recovery after exercising.

7. Increases Energy Levels and Heightens Alertness

White tea has the highest amount of L-theanine of any other non-herbal tea. L-theanine is very good for improving focus and maintaining healthy brain activity.

Consistent stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system and the associated neural receptors in your brain creates a sense of tranquillity, focus, and calmness.

cinnamon white chai tea latte cup

Reducing the stimulus of the sympathetic nervous system increases overall productivity, mood and behavior, focus, alertness, as well as reduces stress and anxiety.

Because the amount of caffeine found in white tea is low, it’ll give you a slight energy boost without the side effects of increased anxiety, nervousness, headaches, and trouble sleeping that comes from drinking too much black and oolong teas.

8. Improves Heart Health and Reduces Risk of Heart Disease

Cardiovascular related and heart disease is the leading cause of death in North America, second to cancer.

Having a healthy cardiovascular system and performing heart-healthy exercises is the key to maintaining a healthier lifestyle and having a longer lifespan.

Heart-healthy exercises include high low-intensity and high-intensity cardio as well as high rep weight training. There are many factors can lead to a weaker heart, such as a poor diet, smoking, and a lack of exercise.

Drinking white tea is very a beneficial, easy ingredient to add to your daily diet for maintaining proper heart health and an overall healthy lifestyle.

White tea contains more catechins and antioxidants than any other non-herbal tea, scientifically proven to help lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and lower your risk of heart disease symptoms and precursors.

9. Helps Treat Diabetes

Multiple case studies show that regularly drinking white tea can greatly reduce the effects of and possibly prevent diabetes.

The EGCG antioxidants found in white tea lowers blood glucose levels and increases the secretion of insulin, both of which contribute to minimizing the symptoms of diabetes.

All of these health benefits help relieve many symptoms experienced by all diabetics, increasing metabolism, fat oxidation, and nutrient absorption by the small intestine.

The EGCG antioxidants in white tea inhibit the secretion of the amylase enzyme.

The amylase enzyme signals glucose absorption for food and nutrients passing through the small intestine, which can cause blood sugar spikes.

tea pot with white and green tea

White Tea Side Effects and Detriments

1. Can Cause Anxiety and High Blood Pressure

There are very few health-related side effects of drinking white tea. Most of the side effects come from its modest concentration of caffeine.

White tea has significantly less caffeine than the other types of black teas, but this does depend on how it’s brewed, cultivated, and sourced.

Tea from the Fujian province of China is made using the locally grown Camellia Sinensis plant, which naturally contains low amounts of caffeine. Because that area harvests leaves while they’re still young, the concentration of caffeine is much higher.

The level of caffeine changes with the duration of oxidation the plant goes through. There is no oxidation process for making white tea.

If you’re buying white tea that was made in other regions the caffeine level could vary greatly, from 3 mg to 35 mg of caffeine per cup.

Teabags generally have higher a caffeine content that loose leaf tea, because tea bags contain finer herbs, there is more contact with water releasing more of polyphenols, flavanols, flavonoids, catechins, as well as caffeine.

Too much caffeine can be very harmful, especially if you drink a lot of coffee or tea throughout your day.

It’s harder to reach a dangerous point when only drinking white tea, but having over 4 to 5 cups can start causing some serious side effects.

A caffeine overdose may cause:

  • High heart rate

  • Anxiety

  • High blood pressure

  • Diarrhea

  • Muscle atrophy and spasms

  • Irritability

  • Fatigue

  • Acid reflux and Digestive issues

  • Insomnia

pumpkin spice white chai tea latte with cinnamon

2. Too Much Caffeine Causes Pregnancy Issues

Because caffeine passes through most blood barriers in the human body, such as the womb or the brain, it’s recommended to cut out caffeine from your diet.

Caffeine does not get metabolized, so the compound goes through and gets absorbed by the developing child in the mother’s womb.

Too much caffeine can cause serious damage, development issues, and other complications with the child.

It’s highly recommended to cut out completely or reduce your caffeine intake to below 75 mg per day.

3. White Tea Has A High Amount of Fluoride

White tea is minimally processed, which has both some benefits and side effects. One of which is that it has some of the highest concentrations of fluoride accumulated in the leaves.

Fluoride can have some great health benefits for proper tooth and oral health, but too much can cause serious complications.

Here are the levels of fluoride per tea:

  1. White tea: 355 mg per kg

  2. Green tea: 308 mg per kg

  3. Yellow tea: 315 mg per kg

  4. Oolong tea: 311 mg per kg

  5. Black tea: 330 mg per kg

You need 0.05 mg per kg of bone mass, per day (0.05 mg/kg/d). Above that threshold, you can get fluorosis which can cause:

  • Discoloration

  • Excess saliva

  • Abdominal pain

  • Tooth weakness

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

steaming cup of white tea

Rating and Recommendation

Extremely Recommended

White tea has incredible health benefits that supplement and support many different lifestyles, keeping you energized and healthy throughout your day.

White tea has many variations, it can be found as an organic iced tea or even as a perfume. When taken in moderation, the caffeine levels found in white tea can be very healthy for you.

In low dosages (10 mg to 75 mg per day), caffeine can reduce the risk of throat cancer and mouth cancer by 48%. Reduces the risk of strokes by up to 23% and your risk of type 2 diabetes.

The healthiest attribute of white tea is that it’s full of antioxidants, EGCG, and many other healthy plant compounds.

Although it’s a common debate between whether if white tea should be served hot or cold. They both share similar health benefits if the iced tea is unsweetened.

Because iced tea uses cold or icy water, the water will absorb a lesser amount of caffeine, fluoride, polyphenols, flavanols, antioxidants, and other healthy compounds.

A better alternative is to let the white tea steep in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes, then adding ice cubes to cool down the mix.

As with most caffeinated drinks, it’s always recommended to drink them in moderation, not going above 200 mg per day.

Too much caffeine can cause dizziness, anxiety, and accelerated heart rates. If you want to drink tea that has no caffeine, you can either drink chamomile tea or any type of organic herbal tea, since herbal teas have 0 mg of caffeine.

white tea cups and flowers on wooden table

This is the full list of health benefits of white tea:

  1. Improves skin health and has anti-ageing properties

  2. Can help fight and prevent cancer

  3. Causes weight loss

  4. Strengthens and maintains hair health

  5. Supports strong teeth and helps strengthen enamel

  6. Reduces inflammation

  7. Increases energy levels and heightens alertness

  8. Improves heart health and reduces the risk of heart disease

  9. Helps treat diabetes

Here’s the full list of side effects of white tea:

  1. Can cause anxiety and high blood pressure

  2. Too much caffeine causes pregnancy issues

  3. Has high a high amount of fluoride

There aren’t many side effects that come from drinking white tea regularly, and most can be avoided if taken in moderation.

Always check the label for the caffeine content when you are looking through different brands of white tea. Some brands may mix in different ingredients into the tea bags, so make sure you’re getting unoxidized tea leaves.

For expecting and pregnant mothers, it’s highly recommended to be cautious about your caffeine consumption. If you drink too much, in extreme cases, it can cause a miscarriage.

Don’t exceed more than 100 mg daily while pregnant. A great-tasting, safer alternative is to drink natural herbal teas as these types of tea have no caffeine.

Frequently Asked Questions

White tea is made with leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, the difference between green tea, oolong tea, black tea, and yellow tea is how the leaves are processed.

The level of oxidation in the Camellia Sinensis leaves changes it's color, flavor, and caffeine levels.

To make white tea, manufacturers use younger tea leaves and have them go through minimal processing before being packaged, shipped, and sold.

Unlike green tea or black tea, white tea doesn't go through a forced oxidation process, only natural oxidation occurs when it's exposed to oxygen.

All of the white tea health benefits, plant-based compounds, nutrition, and antioxidants stay intact due to the lack of processing.

Because non-herbal teas are all made from the Camellia Sinensis plant, the difference between them are their degrees of oxidation:

0% to 10% oxidation makes a white tea

10% to 60% oxidation makes a green tea and yellow tea

60% to 80% oxidation makes oolong and earl grey tea

80% to 95% oxidation makes black tea

Like all non-herbal teas, white tea is very simple to make. Always make sure your white tea is as fresh as possible, preferably packed in an airtight container and originating from the most recent harvest.

White tea is very sensitive to heat, the water that comes into contact with the white tea leaves should never be boiling. Use hot water that's just below boiling point at around 75°C to 85°C (166°F to 185°F).

The water temperature is very important because if you pour boiling water over your white tea leaves, they'll become very bitter and its leaves may burn.

You increase or lower the steep time depending on how strong you like your tea. The longer the leaves steep in hot water the more caffeine gets released.

Here's how you brew white tea:

1. Add 2 to 3 teaspoons of loose leaf white tea into a mug or infuser basket, 4 to 5 for a teapot.

2. In a kettle or saucepan, heat water to a slight boil at around 76°C (170°F).

3. Take the water off the heat, and wait for it to settle for 2 minutes before then pouring the water into the cup or teapot.

4. Pour the hot water over the tea leaves while letting the white tea leaves steep for 5 to 10 minutes.

5. Optional: remove the white tea leaves and enjoy!

Yes, white tea is very good for you. It's full of antioxidants, polyphenols, flavanols, and many other healthy plant-based compounds that contribute to its long list of health benefits.

White tea has been thoroughly studied and proven to be able to reduce the risk of heart disease, reduces inflammation, and directly causes weight loss, having similar effects to green tea.

Some of the health benefits of white tea are:

1. Improves skin health and has anti-ageing properties

2. Can help fight and prevent cancer

3. Causes weight loss

4. Strengthens and maintains hair health

5. Supports strong teeth and helps strengthen enamel

6. Reduces inflammation

7. Increases energy levels and heightens alertness

8. Improves heart health and reduces the risk of heart disease

9. Helps treat diabetes

Yes, white tea naturally has a low amount of caffeine. The level of caffeine in white tea differs from each company, but it remains the least caffeinated tea out of all the non-herbal teas.

The levels of caffeine found in white tea range from 5 mg to 63 mg (milligrams) of caffeine per 235 ml cup.

On average, a cup of white tea has 25 mg of caffeine. If caffeinated drinks are harmful to you, look into chamomile tea which has no caffeine (strictly 0 mg).

Articles and Sources

1. Nutrients. (2012 November 11) Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) Is the Most Effective Cancer Chemopreventive Polyphenol in Green Tea

2. Nutrients. (2019 May 5) Effects and Mechanisms of Tea Regulating Blood Pressure: Evidences and Promises

3. J Agric Food Chem. (2003 July 15) Determination of tea components with antioxidant activity.

4. Toxicol Res. (2014 December 4) Anti-wrinkle Effects of Water Extracts of Teas in Hairless Mouse

5. Food Funct. (2017 August 8) Healthy properties of green and white teas: an update.

6. J Food Sci. (2010 August 6) White and green teas (Camellia sinensis var. sinensis): variation in phenolic, methylxanthine, and antioxidant profiles.

7. J Agric Food Chem. (2014 January 3) White tea as a promising antioxidant medium additive for sperm storage at room temperature: a comparative study with green tea.

8. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. (2011 March 1) White tea (Camellia sinensis Kuntze) exerts neuroprotection against hydrogen peroxide-induced toxicity in PC12 cells.

9. Eur J Nutr. (2014 September 6) Effect of white tea (Camellia sinensis (L.)) extract in the glycolytic profile of Sertoli cell.

10. Br J Nutr. (2015 March 5) Daily consumption of white tea (Camellia sinensis (L.)) improves the cerebral cortex metabolic and oxidative profile in prediabetic Wistar rats.

11. Exp Dermatol. (2009 June 6) Topical application of green and white tea extracts provides protection from solar-simulated ultraviolet light in human skin.

12. Pharmacogn Mag. (2016 March 12) Theanine and Caffeine Content of Infusions Prepared from Commercial Tea Samples

13. Mauro Serafini, Daniele Del Rio, Denis N’Dri Yao, Saverio Bettuzzi, and Ilaria Peluso. (2011) Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Health Benefits of Tea

White Tea Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 245 g (about 8oz or 1 Cup)

Amount Per Serving
Calories 2.4 Calories from Fat 0
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0 g 0 %
Saturated Fat 0 g 0 %
Polyunsaturated fat 0 g
Monounsaturated fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Sodium 2.4 mg 0 %
Potassium 21.3 mg 1 %
Total Carbohydrate 0.5 g 0 %
Dietary Fiber 0 g 0 %
Sugars 0 g
Protein 0 g
Vitamin A 1 % Vitamin C 0 %
Vitamin E 0 % Vitamin K 0 %
Vitamin D 0 % Vitamin B6 0 %
Calcium 1 % Iron 1 %
Magnesium 1 % Cobalamin 0 %

Calories per gram:

Fat: 9 | Carbohydrate: 4 | Protein: 4

Source: USDA's Nutrient Database

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