Jakarta - Drinking tea is a deeply ingrained habit among Indonesians. Tea is always the go-to beverage for various occasions, whether it's to accompany afternoon snacks or to unwind during leisure time. This habit turns out to have numerous benefits. As we know, tea contains antioxidants in the form of polyphenols and catechins that are beneficial for the body. These compounds can counteract free radicals, prevent cancer, and act as antivirals. There are several popular types of tea known as sources of antioxidants among tea enthusiasts in the country, including black tea, oolong tea, and green tea. However, there is another type of tea known globally as the 'king' of antioxidants, and it's called white tea. What sets this tea apart from the others? White tea originates from the youngest tea leaves at the tip of the tea plant. These young tea leaves are usually covered in fine hairs that turn white after drying. It's this white color that gives white tea its name.
Due to its straight and sharp appearance after the drying process, white tea is often referred to as 'silver needle.' Historical records indicate that white tea was first discovered in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). During that time, white tea was a royal secret recipe believed to promote health, maintain youthfulness, and extend life. Due to its exceptional qualities, this tea was reserved for the upper class of society. In Indonesia, white tea made its appearance in 1878 and was later developed in Gemboeng, West Java, where the Tea and Cinchona Research Center (PPTK) is now located. Due to its uniqueness, Indonesian white tea gained recognition from The International Society of Antioxidant and Nutrition and Health in Paris and became an icon of Indonesian tea. Research conducted on Indonesian white tea has shown that it contains 11.1 - 25.6% higher levels of antioxidants compared to other tea types. A cup of white tea has more antioxidants than 10 cups of apple juice, 31 times more vitamin C, and 100 times more vitamin E. White tea has been proven to have benefits such as reducing fat levels, cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and maintaining heart health. In some cases, white tea can even function as a healing remedy. Women who regularly consume white tea can enjoy several benefits, such as delaying premature aging, having firmer skin, and reducing wrinkles. Another factor that makes white tea special compared to other tea types is its fresher, milder taste and more fragrant aroma. This uniqueness stems from the difference in the age of the tea leaves used and the processing methods. Black tea, oolong tea, and green tea use tea leaves that grow two or three levels below the tip. In contrast, white tea comes from the youngest tea leaves.
During processing, black tea and oolong tea undergo two stages of oxidation and fermentation, making them taste bitter and astringent. Meanwhile, white tea and green tea do not undergo this process, resulting in a lighter taste. However, green tea still tastes more bitter than white tea. To fully savor its unique flavor and health benefits, white tea must be processed and served with quality in mind. Fresh white tea leaves must be picked before the sun becomes scorching, and the drying process must be done at a maximum temperature of 60°C. Brewing should be done with hot water from a dispenser, and the maximum steeping should only be 2-3 times. Feeling lazy? Don't worry; bottled white tea is now available for convenient consumption. You can enjoy its delicious taste and benefits anytime, anywhere