White tea is a special tea variety that has been used as a medical beverage for many years. White tea from eastern Fujian, China, is particularly unique not only because of the special processing the tea undergoes, but also due to its botanical characteristics. A study published in the Journal of Food Science examines the bioactive ingredients of this unique variety of white tea and their effects on cancer cells. The researchers also evaluated the antioxidant activity of white tea aqueous extract (WTAE).

White tea from eastern Fujian is harvested from a variety of tea plants and its processing program is simpler than those of other teas, lacking steps involving fermentation, roasting, or subjection to a prior withering stage. As such, white tea retains higher concentrations of polyphenol antioxidants, such as EGCG, which has been extensively studied and reported to be chemopreventive against several cancers. The researchers did find that WTAE contained high concentrations of catechins.

Apoptosis rate detection was also applied to estimate efficacy of cellular apoptotic induction by WTAE in these two cells types. Results revealed that WTAE exhibited high antioxidant activity and inhibited effectively the proliferation of Hela and BEL‐7402 cells. The half maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) of WTAE for Hela cells (0.05 mg/mL) was lower than that for BEL‐7402 cells (0.1 mg/mL). Although WTAE induced apoptosis in both cell lines, pro‐apoptotic effects were markedly more apparent in Hela cells.

The researchers concluded that the “results of our study not only provide important information as to why white tea possesses anticancer functions but also lay the foundation for future study concerning the clinical applications of WTAE in the realm of cancer prevention.”


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