Of these two, green tea is often presented as the “healthier” option and black tea is, well, not. Is this press warranted though? Let’s go over the facts.
You might be surprised to learn that green tea and black tea both come from the same plant – it’s called the Camellia sinensis, and yes, that’s a real mouthful. So, where does the difference start? Well, black tea is oxidized – i.e., it’s rolled up and exposed to air to trigger oxidation. This process is how black tea gets its colors – the leaves turn dark brown, and the flavors become more profound. Green tea, on the other hand, is processed to prevent it from oxidizing – that’s why it has a lighter color and less distinct taste.
So, we’ve established that black and green tea differ in color and taste. What about their health benefits, though? The long and short of it is that both green and black tea offer very similar health benefits. They’re both rich in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that is believed to help with heart health. Some studies revealed that 1-3 cups of green tea could reduce your risk of heart attack by as much as 19%, and 3 cups of black tea can decrease chances of heart disease by 11%. Quite promising, right?
The health benefits don’t end there, though, as both green and black tea can increase brain function – thanks to their caffeine content. Caffeine is a natural stimulant that stimulates your nervous system and further aids in the secretion of dopamine and serotonin – which are important mood-enhancing neurotransmitters. What’s that mean in English? It means caffeine can boost your mood and alertness, keeping you happier and helping you work more productively. More than this, though, green and black tea both contain an amino acid called L-theanine, which is believed to balance the effects of caffeine. A study found that consuming caffeine and L-theanine together had better attentivity than those that consumed caffeine alone.
Remember those polyphenol antioxidants we mentioned earlier? Black tea and green tea contain a subgroup of polyphenol called flavonoids, and the two kinds of tea have different concentrations of types of these flavonoids. Green tea has a high concentration of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is believed to provide liver and cancer protection and offers fatigue-combating properties and a calming ability. On the other hand, black tea is rich in theaflavins – which form during the oxidation phase. Theaflavins have been related to the production of natural antioxidants and increased heart health.
Now, which one should you go for – black tea or green tea? They’re both pretty great, but if you’re looking for a caffeine boost to get you through a long workday, then black tea is your best bet. And if you want to take full advantage of the many health benefits that ECGCs offer, green tea’s your go-to.