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The Antibacterial Properties of White Tea

Pai Mu Tan  Tea is the second most popularly consumed beverage around the world, taking a close second to water. Many know that the regular consumption of tea has various health benefits, but why? As an avid tea drinker, I was interested in figuring out more about the properties of tea, specifically the Pai Mu Tan white tea. I chose this particular type of tea due to the minimal research conducted in this field, and because white tea is the least processed type of tea, made from only the young growth buds and newly grown leaves of the plant. My alternate hypothesis was that there would be a negative correlation between the concentration of white tea and the amount of bacterial growth on the Petri dishes, whereas the null hypothesis stated that no correlation would be found between white tea concentration and bacterial growth.

In a society full of unhealthy eating habits where many rely on man-made medicine to ensure the health and well being of our organisms, many of us have forgotten the advantages and benefits of nature and its healing properties. The possible antibacterial properties of white tea could be beneficial to each and every individual and could bring health improvements that would have a positive impact on our daily lives. From biomedical researchers and investigators to doctors and patients alike, everyone could be positively influenced by the possible antibacterial properties of white tea.

Studies conducted in Brazil by Enzveiler et al. in 1887 have shown that caffeine accounts for around 2% of the total tea plant composition, depending on leaf age, climate and the harvest season. Other studies have shown caffeine’s significant antibacterial activity; its ability to remove free radicals allows it to inhibit the bacteria’s oxidation system (Ashihara et al., 2008).e coli

Due to my interest in the antibacterial properties of white tea, I decided to investigate how various concentrations of Pai Mu Tan white tea affect the growth of the gram negative bacteria, Escherichia coli K-12 498. The various concentrations used ranged from 1% to 10% and from 20% to 50%.

The main active ingredients in white tea are phenols and polyphenols. Some polyphenols found in tea include: flavanols, flavandiols, flavonoids and phenolic acids. All of them may make up approximately 30% of the total dry weight of the tealeaves with flavanols as the most abundant group as studies by Y. Hilal in 2007 and Sharangi in 2009 wrote articles showing that the antibacterial activity of white tea is attributed to the catechins (a type of polyphenols) which make up 45-90% of the polyphenols present in white tea. Catechins are a type of flavonoids, which are part of the larger group of polyphenols. Hashimoto’s work links the major tea flavanols to potential therapeutic applications, such as the inhibition of growth of cancer cells, the treatment of HIV and chronic fatigue syndrome, as well as having natural antioxidant and antibiotic properties.

The Spearman Rank Correlation Test can determine if there is a correlation and if it is significant or not and if so, it can also determine if it is a positive or a negative correlation. The value obtained for the Spearman Rank Coefficient (-0.84) is greater than the critical value of 0.62. This indicates that there is a correlation the negative sign shows that the correlation is negative. Therefore this confirms that if the concentration of white tea increases, the percentage of bacterial growth will decrease.

The conclusion ended up supporting the hypothesis, as the concentration of Pai Mu Tan white tea increases from 0-50%, the percentage of bacterial coverage of the agar Petri dishes decreases from 30% to 0%.

Although the experiwhite teament did show that white tea has antibacterial properties, the concentrations used were much larger than one would drink. A typical cup of tea is around 0.6% in a 250 cm3 cup, which is much smaller than the concentrations used in the experiment.  Therefore, this might not be a completely accurate representation of the impact of tea on bacterial growth in humans.  However, having bacteria in our bodies can be a beneficial, as they play vital roles in ones well being.

Editor: Shreya Singireddy