Black tea vs green tea, it appears to be a continuous battle. Before we can decide which one YOU prefer though, I’ll first give the main reason why green tea is so different from black tea.
Well, the secret is that green tea leaves are dried, but not fermented (unlike black tea). These leaves come from the Camellia sinensis the mother of all tea (Yep, you got it right: black tea leaves are actually the same leaves from the same plant).
It’s this difference in processing which gives green tea a greenish color (closely matching the leaf in an unprocessed state) and a more subtle taste than black teas, often described as fresh, light, floral (with Jasmine) or green and grassy.
Read more on the difference in processing at what is green tea.
The most familiar ones are Sencha green tea (light), Matcha green tea powder (high-quality) or gunpowder green tea. The last type, from the Guangdong province of China is hand-rolled. Its leaves unfurl during steeping which give a hint of smokiness.
Thanks to the difference in processing (or lack of…when it comes to green tea..) the on-going battle of black tea vs green tea boils down to one important difference; With green tea….
ALL HEALTHY ingredients stay INTACT!
(…and the less healthy ones only make up a small amount…)
1. Green Tea is Richer in “Pure” Antioxidants
In green tea the unfermented leaves contain catechins (antioxidants). Unfortunately, in the fermentation process of tea leaves (oxidation of the leaves), typical for black tea (100% oxidized) these catechins are converted into other compounds, namely theaflavins and thearubigins.
These still have the same antioxidant potency as the catechins in green tea. However, according to Lee et al in the end green tea has more health benefits than an equal volume of black tea because it still has the “pure and stronger” antioxidants.
For example a cup of black tea contains about 5-10 mg of the powerful antioxidant EGCG, a cup of green tea on the other hand contains a staggering EIGHT times the amount; 40-90 mg!
Nevertheless, some researchers found flavonoids also offer great health benefits because they can lead to the reduction of stroke and heart disease risk because they help to reduce LDL (the bad cholesterol) associated to cause these two diseases.
2. Green Tea Contains Less Caffeine
Whether black, green or white, all tea contains caffeine. And that’s ok.
It becomes a problem only when someone starts to suffer from insomnia when drinking too much caffeine or when you are sensitive to caffeine. (Read more on possible side effects caused by caffeine).
In that case, you’d better go for green tea because the fermentation process that black tea experiences, increases the caffeine content; one cup of black tea normally contains 40 mg, a cup of green tea only about half that (depending on the cup size and how long the leaves were brewed).
Let’s not forget though that the caffeine content in black tea is still only half that of coffee!
3. Green Tea Hardly Stains Your Teeth
The theaflavins in black tea often cause staining of teeth; again, because green tea has been dried, not fermented it contains much less theaflavins.
Consequently: it hardly stains your teeth!
Higher quality green tea causes less stains than lower quality but even the latter will stain your teeth less than black tea does. Go to does green tea stain teeth for more on this subject.
Ok, so green tea might be (slightly) healthier than black tea and yes,
you could hold on to your shiny white teeth but the battle of black tea vs green tea is also a matter of….TASTE!
If you like the taste of black tea
keep on drinking black tea!
After all, it’s still MUCH healthier than coffee, soda, beer or a strong booze.
What’s more, maybe you prefer drinking black tea in the morning, waking you up whereas a cup of green tea could be your way to end the day in a relaxed mood before going to bed!
It’s all good!
Lee KW, Lee HJ and Lee CY. Antioxidant Activity of Black Tea vs Green Tea. The American Society for Nutritional Sciences J. Nutr. 2002; 132:785.
Leung LK, Su Y, Chen R, Zhang Z, Huang Y, Chen ZY. Theaflavins in black tea and catechins in green tea are equally effective antioxidants. J Nutr. 2001;131(9):2248-51.