A Whiter Shade Of Tea

Hundreds of studies have investigated green tea for its anticancer and antioxidant effects, tracing its health-enhancing properties to polyphenols. Now, researchers have turned their attention to another tea: white. Starting from the same leaves as the better-known green and black varieties, white tea is minimally processed so it retains more active polyphenols.

A recent study looked at brewed tea's ability to reverse mutation of bacteria, and found white tea to be more effective than green. In this study, concentrations of the most potent polyphenol, EGCG, were similar between the two teas but white tea had additional polyphenols and more methylxanthines—caffeine and theobromine—also thought to contribute to white tea's mutation-fighting qualities. Another study added white tea to the drinking water of mice at high risk of developing colon polyps. The mice who drank white tea ended up with smaller tumors and less severe anemia than those receiving water alone. White tea will soon be on store shelves. In the meantime, studies are in the pipeline to see whether white tea's health benefits outweigh those of green in humans, as well.

Nutrition and exercise biochemist Anthony Almada, MS, has collaborated on more than 45 university-based studies, is co-founder of Experimental and Applied Sciences (EAS) and founder and chief scientific officer of IMAGINutrition (www.imaginutrition.com).