Everyone loves a tea party. Children all over the world play “tea time.” And even adults make tea a regular part of their day. Why? Well not only is tea comforting and delicious, but many teas are also full to the brim with polyphenols.
Let’s explore why tea is so beloved in every country. Specifically, let’s look at the polyphenols in both green tea and black tea. What makes them different? What do they have in common?
Green Tea Vs. Black Tea: Which Is Healthier?
When it comes to the differences between black tea polyphenols and green tea polyphenols, you may be surprised to learn there aren’t too many. For one thing, both types of tea are actually made from the leaves of the same plant: Camellia sinensis.1
But there is one major factor that differs between the two. In the simplest terms, green tea is not oxidized, while black tea is completely oxidized. Even if you are a serious tea drinker, you may be asking yourself, “What does that mean exactly?”
For one thing, when you make green tea, you process it without exposing the plant to processes of oxidation. Since oxidation darkens the color, you end up with a tea that is lighter in hue.
When you make black tea, you roll and macerate the black tea leaves. This exposes them to more air to start the processes of oxidation. The result? It’s a rich, dark, amber-colored tea full of tannins and an emboldened flavor profile.2
Tea Polyphenols For Health Promotion
Now, almost all tea contains antioxidant properties. Most tea also possesses traces of protein, amino acids, lipids, carbohydrates, and a fair amount of vitamins and minerals. But really, tea gets its high praise because of its natural phytochemical compounds.3
In studies on green tea and green tea extract, polyphenols like theaflavin, flavan, theanine, and epicatechin have proven responsible for their ability to fight off several health concerns. The polyphenol content in green tea is somewhat higher than concentrations in black tea. But black tea does boast polyphenols like thearubigin, theaflavin digallate, theanine, epicatechin, and flavan as well.4
Both types of tea are full of copious amounts of polyphenols and good-for-you compounds when it comes down to it. You really don’t have to choose one over the other. You can add both to your diet, even though the benefits differ slightly.
Health Benefits And Antioxidant Activity Of Black Tea Vs. Green Tea
Now, when exploring the evidence that proves green tea antioxidants could be beneficial to your health, you’ll notice that both black and green tea can support:
- Your body’s defense against free radicals
- Heart health
- Weight loss
- Immune health
- And more5,6,7,8,9,10
So, the question that remains then is…
Which One Should You Drink?
The choice really is yours. It really all comes down to a matter of taste. Again, because black tea undergoes a process of oxidation, fermentation creates a different flavor than you’ll taste in green tea. Black tea can ferment in as little time as one hour.
But the longer you allow the tea to ferment, you’ll notice a darker color and deeper, more distinct flavor. While every type of black tea is different, in general, you’ll find black tea to taste smooth, smokey, and a bit earthy. Sometimes you’ll get a hint of nuttiness.
As far as green tea flavor goes, it can run a little sweeter than certain black teas. And while some green teas taste nutty, most have more of a grassy, floral flavor. Some even have a slightly fruity and oceany aftertaste.
Another thing to note when deciding which type of tea you’d prefer to consume is caffeine content. Now, both green tea and black tea most certainly contain caffeine. However, black tea usually contains more caffeine than green tea.
So, if you’re sensitive to caffeine, you might prefer to make green tea your regular tea, or look for a decaffeinated black or green tea. Plus, green tea does contain a higher level of L-theanine, which has been shown to support a positive mood. The L-theanine in green tea may help offset its caffeine effects.11
But, if you’re actually in need of a little caffeine boost (higher than the boost you’d get from green tea yet lower than what you’d experience with bold coffee), look no further than black tea.
And if you love both teas, then don’t decide. Go ahead and steep a mug of hot black tea in the morning. After lunch, perhaps you’d enjoy a cup of iced green tea. Again, green tea and black tea are both excellent alternatives for coffee — especially if you’re looking for a way to support your focus levels without having to suffer the jittery restlessness coffee may invite.
Green Tea Polyphenols Vs. Black Tea Polyphenols
In the end, it all comes down to personal preference. Both green tea polyphenols and black tea polyphenols provide similar health benefits. After all, both teas are made from the same plant. The only real difference is the oxidized processing of black tea.
The truth of the matter is, you can’t really go wrong with either type of tea. And if you are fixing a lectin-free salad or something milder in flavor, you might want to go for green tea. Bolder dishes, like those made with more potent spices like cumin or turmeric, will often pair well with black tea.
So, which tea will you serve at your next tea party? Perhaps if you have folks over early in the morning, you can help them start their day off with black tea. But if you’re hosting a dinner, you might opt for palate-cleansing green tea. That way, you won’t keep your guests up all night.