White Tea vs. Green Tea: Which Is the Right Tea for You?

White Tea
iStock: alfernec

The source of both white tea and green tea is exactly the same: the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. The colors and the difference between them are determined by the degree of withering and oxidation (exposure to oxygen) they’ve withstood. Truthfully, more is known about green tea than white tea, and this is primarily because more research has been done on green tea.

However, one thing common to both varieties is that both teas contain a huge amount of polyphenols, which are antioxidant plant compounds that give us many health benefits.

White tea is originally from China, from the Fujian and Zhejiang provinces, but these days it is grown in other countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal, Taiwan, India, and Thailand. White tea is a very lightly oxidized tea that is derived from the leaves and buds of the tea plant.

White tea gets its name from of the wispy, white-silver hairs on the unopened buds of the tea plant. The white tea drink itself is neither white nor silver, but is faint yellow having a mild and smooth flavor.

Conversely, green tea traces its roots to both China and Japan and is unique in each country because of the differences in the growing conditions, harvesting, and processing. People never tire of debating about white tea vs. green tea, but the truth is that both hold many benefits for their respective lovers.

How Are White Tea & Green Tea Processed?

White tea is first dried directly under the sun and later dried indoors as well. This lack of processing allows the tea to retain its whitish color, especially when it consists of mainly the tea buds. Processing of white tea may sound very easy, but it definitely is not.

The white tea leaves are first spread evenly onto bamboo sheets for drying under the sun. This step should be taken immediately after the tea leaves have been picked, otherwise they will turn brown. Indoor drying requires careful control of the humidity, room temperature, fermentation, and the time allotted for the withering process.

Green tea is wilted in shade and is later either steamed or fried in a pan. The processing of green tea is a little harsher than the gentle treatment white tea receives. The taste of both the teas differ as a result of their unique processing procedures.

What Do White Tea & Green Tea Taste Like?

The longer the tea leaves are left to oxidize, the deeper their color and stronger their flavor. White tea is lighter or paler in color when compared to green tea. It has a light and slightly sweet flavor and won’t contain bolder flavors like the ones you get in green tea or even black tea, for that matter. The good thing about the taste of white tea is that if it is brewed just right, you will find no bitter aftertaste or the grass-like undertones present in green tea.

The taste of green tea depends on several factors, like where the tea leaves were grown, harvested, and processed. Depending on these factors, you can get a range of tastes in different green tea varieties. People have described green tea using a number of terms, such as nutty, sweet, bittersweet, fruity, floral, and swampy. Green teas that have been steamed leave a bittersweet aftertaste, while most other teas are sweet.

Types of White Tea & Green Tea

Types of White Tea

1. Silver Needle White Tea: “Bai Hao Yin Zhen” 

Exclusively made from the buds of the tea plant, this type is much appreciated all over the world. In the olden days, silver needle white tea was made from Da Bai cultivars, but today it is grown in most high-elevation tea growing areas of the world, like Darjeeling and the Nilgiris in India. Needless to say, this variety of white tea is pretty expensive and won’t suit most pockets.

2. White Peony: “Bai Mudan” 

White Peony tea derives from the earliest leaves of the tea plant, usually the first and two following ones. It has a stronger flavor and darker liquid than white needle tea because its leaves are partially oxidized. It is increasingly grown in all important tea growing areas of the world, like Darjeeling, the Nilgiris, and Nepal, because the demand for high-quality white tea is steadily increasing. White peony tea is in demand because it’s thought to offer health benefits such as improving kidney health, thinning blood, and liver support.

3. Eyebrow White Tea: “Shou Mein” 

This tea is primarily made in China, and the leaves are plucked pretty late into the harvesting season. It is made immediately after White Peony by using the buds and the first few leaves of the tea plant. The tea has a fruity and robust flavor that reminds many people of an oolong.

Types of Green Tea

Most green teas can be divided into two types: Chinese tea and Japanese tea.

1. Chinese Green Tea

After the hand-harvesting of the youngest leaves and buds, they are dried in multiple ways, including being left to dry under the shining sun or being pan-fried. They are almost never steamed, and after drying, are styled and prepared for packaging.

Long Jing, also known as Dragonwell, is the most sought-after of all Chinese green teas and is of very high quality and also very expensive. Its harvesting season lasts less than a month, and the tea features a jade color when brewed. It has a grassy, nutty flavor with little-to-no aftertaste.

Another green tea that has a lot of drinkers is gunpowder green tea, which is made by shaping the green tea leaves into small pellets that resemble gunpowder grains. This tea is steamed instead of pan-fried and was first introduced by the Tang dynasty. When boiled, the leaf pellets expand and release a bold and slightly minty flavor.

2. Japanese Green Tea

In Japan, green tea leaves are grown in the shade so that the chlorophyll that gives these teas a lively green hue is retained. The tea leaves are harvested mechanically rather than by human workers. They are then steam-dried but not pan-fried as in China. Japanese green teas have high amounts of amino acids that give an “umami” flavor to the tea.

Matcha green tea and Gyokuro green tea are among the most favored in Japan. Matcha tea comes in a powder form that contains the full leaves of the tea plant. This gives the tea many health benefits as it stores all the oxidants and chemical compounds found in green tea leaves. Japan exports a considerable amount of Gyokuro tea, which has an emerald green color. It has a rich body and a smooth feel along with savory and sweet flavors.

Comparison of Caffeine Content in White & Green Tea

White tea is generally preferred because of its lower caffeine content as compared to green tea. White teas from Fujian in China usually contain about 15 mg of caffeine in every cup, while green teas have approximately 20 mg in every cup. Some people may feel uneasy and jittery when they ingest caffeine, so they would be better off with Chinese white teas. The irony is that white tea is often steeped for a longer period than green tea, resulting in the release of more caffeine as well as flavor. Therefore, it is advisable to take note of how long you steep the white tea.

Comparing Pros & Cons of White & Green Tea

Pros of White Tea

Research has shown that white teas may be better at cancer prevention when compared to green tea. In a study conducted by the Linus Pauling Institute in 2000, researchers tested four different kinds of white tea on rats to determine their benefits for the prevention of colon cancer.

Findings showed that white tea contains a greater amount of polyphenols and reduces the harm done to DNA, which is a type of cell damage that often leads to cancer. The scientists cautioned that more research was required before they could confirm that this same benefit occurs in humans.

Pros of Green Tea

According to some experts, green tea may help in stopping the growth of cancer cells seen in stomach, prostate, esophageal, and breast cancers. It may also help in preventing atherosclerosis and the incidence of high cholesterol, potentially thwarting the development of heart disease.

Thanks to its fat-burning abilities, green tea may also induce weight loss in drinkers. According to a 2012 report published in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, green tea may even reduce the inflammation and bacteria that are linked to gum disease.

Common Pros of White & Green Tea

Both white and green teas contain meager amounts of calories, provided you don’t add sugar or milk. This makes them ideal for inclusion in a healthy weight loss diet program. As for which tea has a bigger effect on weight loss, the jury is still out on this one! Some people maintain that white tea contains more polyphenols because it is not as heavily processed as black tea or pan-fried like green tea, so it should theoretically be better at fat oxidation.

Both white and green tea contain caffeine, which increases the amount of energy expended during the day. Just keep in mind that drinking tea is not a fast way to lose weight; it takes a long time for it to happen. If you drink tea regularly over a period of time, it may help you in reducing your body weight. Don’t get too twisted up over which tea to drink. Choose your specific tea depending on its taste and flavor, and if you enjoy drinking it, there’s a good chance you will maintain a healthy weight.

Common Cons of White & Green Tea

People who are sensitive to caffeine should avoid drinking white and green tea because both contain caffeine. Drink tea in the morning and afternoon but avoid it in the evening so that you can escape its negative side effects on sleep. You can always drink caffeine-free herbal or flower teas. They’re like the best of both worlds!

Since white and green teas are lightly processed, they are considered “raw” teas. This property of the teas might upset your stomach, particularly if you drink tea when your stomach is empty. It’s best to drink tea about 30 minutes after having a full meal to avoid this outcome. Otherwise, you have other healthy, more oxidized options like oolong, black or ripe Pu-erh tea.

How to Brew White Tea & Green Tea

1. White Tea


2 teaspoons white tea (up to 2 tablespoons for leaf tea)
6 ounces water


  • Put the water in a tea kettle and heat it to about 160 degrees F. Otherwise, you can boil the water and then let it cool down to the correct temperature.
  • Measure two teaspoons of tea. Use more tea for leaves and less tea for buds.
  • Put the tea buds or leaves in the pot or cup. Pour the water over them.
  • Place the lid on the teapot, or cover the cup with a lid or a small saucer.
  • Depending on the specific variety of tea and personal choice, let the tea steep for up to five minutes, although some teas may require 10 minutes. Bud tea commonly takes longer to infuse.
  • When the tea is ready, remove the buds/leaves by pouring the tea through a strainer.

Green Tea


1 teaspoon green tea leaves
1 cup water


  • Take one teaspoon of green tea leaves for preparing one cup of green tea.
  • Put the tea leaves in a strainer and keep aside.
  • Take a stainless steel pot and boil the water to a temperature of 180 degrees F, but make sure it’s not boiling.
  • Place the strainer over the cup. Pour the hot water into the cup, and let the tea steep for three minutes.
  • Not everybody likes strong tea, so to check whether the tea is just right, drink a spoonful of tea every 30 to 45 seconds to find out if the flavor is right for you.
  • Remove the strainer and set aside. You can add one teaspoon of honey.
  • Stir the honey in and let the liquid cool for a few seconds. Pour into a cup and enjoy your green tea.

The Final Word on White Tea vs. Green Tea

Both white tea and green tea are derived from the leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis, but the differences in color and taste are due to their unique wilting and oxidation processes. White tea comes from the light, grayish-white hairs on the unopened buds of the tea plant. The tea drink itself is a pale yellow with a mild and smooth flavor.

Both white tea and green tea contain a large number of antioxidant plant compounds called polyphenols, which can provide many health benefits. Drinking white tea could potentially help prevent cancer, while research suggests green tea helps dental health, prevents atherosclerosis, and lowers cholesterol in the body, thereby preventing heart attacks.

Both white tea and green tea may help in reducing weight loss, as both contain caffeine, which can boost the energy used up in a day. However, the downside of the caffeine is that people who are sensitive to it cannot enjoy the drink in large amounts. Both are considered “raw” teas and should not be drunk on an empty stomach as that might lead to an upset stomach. Tea is best when you have it on a full stomach, such as after having a good meal.

You can choose your tea from a large array of white and green tea brands available in your local grocery store and make it at home, as they are quite easy to brew. Share some hot tea mixed with dollops of warm feelings with your family and friends and enjoy the soothing taste and health benefits. It’s high tea time!

Also Read:

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https://teafloor.com/blog/which-one-is-better-green-tea-vs-white-tea/, last accessed November 27, 2018.
“White Tea vs Green Tea: Processing, Caffeine, Weight Loss, Price,” Teasenz, September 20, 2018;
https://www.teasenz.com/chinese-tea/white-tea-vs-green-tea.html, last accessed November 27, 2018.
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Teabox, “WHAT IS WHITE TEA?,” Teabox.com, January 19, 2017;
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Biswas, C., “How To Make Green Tea – 3 Simple Brewing Methods,” STYLECRAZE, February 19, 2018; https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/2-simple-ways-to-prepare-green-tea/ , last accessed November 27, 2018.