Encouraged by reports of cancer-fighting chemicals in green tea, the researchers decided to test white tea to determine whether it has similar qualities. They brewed four varieties of white tea and subjected each to a laboratory test using bacteria. The test, called the Salmonella assay, determines whether a chemical can cause or prevent DNA mutations, the earliest steps leading to cancer.
White tea inhibited mutations more efficiently than green tea. This means it may have more potential to prevent cancer than green tea, says Gilberto Santana-Rios, Ph.D., a post-doctoral research associate with the institute, located in Corvallis.