Wondering what the difference between green tea and black tea is – and which one is healthier? The good news is, if you have a preference for one over the other, you don’t have to worry about switching over for health reasons as both provide health benefits and one isn’t necessarily healthier than the other.
We’ll give an overview of the production methods of each tea and explain the health benefits of both below.
Production of Green Tea Overview
Green tea is derived from Camellia sinensis, a tea plant that’s native to India and China. This tea plant is cultivated all over the world.
Green tea isn’t oxidized in any way during production. The leaves are harvested from the tea plant and heated to prevent withering and oxidation. Leaves are typically pan-fried or steamed and retain a green hue that is most similar to the tea plant itself.
Production of Black Tea Overview
Just like green tea, black tea is made using the leaves of the Camellia sinensis tea plant. The main difference between green and black tea arises through the production process.
As noted above, green tea isn’t oxidized. Black tea, on the other hand, undergoes the most complete oxidation process of all true teas. Black tea leaves are harvested and then withered to reduce moisture content. The leaves are rolled and spread out on large trays where oxygen turns the leaves black. The black tea leaves are fired in ovens to stop the oxidation process.
Health Benefits of Green Tea and Black Tea
Both green tea and black tea offer some of the same health benefits, including:
- Heart Protection– Both teas are rich in a group of protective antioxidants (called polyphenols), including flavonoids, a subgroup of polyphenols. While the amounts and types of flavonoids differ between green and black tea, the flavonoids in each are thought to provide heart protection.
Studies found that both teas can help lower blood pressure and reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. They were also found to be equally effective in preventing blood vessel plaque formation by 26% at the lowest dose and up to 68% at the highest dose.
- Help Boost Brain Function– Both green and black tea contain caffeine, though the amounts in each differ (more on that below). Caffeine helps to boost alertness, mood, short-term recall and reaction time.
Both teas also contain L-theanine, an amino acid which isn’t present in coffee. L-theanine is thought to trigger the release of an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain which brings about a relaxed but alert state, while simultaneously promoting the release of dopamine and serotonin (mood-enhancing hormones). It is thought that ingesting L-theanine and caffeine together results in better attention than when either is used alone.
Black Tea Vs. Green Tea – Differences Between the Teas
Although both green and black teas contain caffeine and antioxidants, the amounts in each type of tea differ.
- Caffeine Content
While green tea typically has less caffeine than black tea, this isn’t always the case since caffeine content can vary depending on the plant varietal, processing, and brewing methods.
In general, however, the caffeine content of green tea ranges from 24-40 milligrams per cup. A notable exception is matcha green tea, which contains between 40 and 60 milligrams of caffeine per cup.
For black tea, caffeine content ranges from 50 to 90 milligrams per cup, on average. However, flavored black teas, such as Earl Grey, or black teas that are blended with herbal teas and spices, tend to have less caffeine than pure black teas.
- Amount of Antioxidants
Green and black tea both contain antioxidants, which may prevent cancer and other diseases.
Green tea is an excellent source of the antioxidant epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). In test-tube and animal studies, EGCG has been shown to fight cancer and bacterial cells and protect both your brain and liver.
Black tea contains beneficial theaflavins, a group of polyphenols that are unique to black tea. Through their antioxidant effects, theaflavins may improve blood vessel function and support fat loss.
Bottom line? Both green tea and black tea contain powerful compounds that offer a host of health benefits. Deciding which one will be best for you will depend on your specific needs and tastes.
Rest assured that no matter which one you drink, you’ll reap some health benefits. And feel free to switch it up and enjoy drinking both green tea and black tea, depending on what you’re in the mood for!