We know we all love tea; it is one of the world’s favorite drink. Black and green teas are up right up there, enjoyed by billions of people every day.
Not only are they delicious, but also super healthy. Is there one which has the edge in terms of health? Let’s see how the two stack up against each other: black tea vs green tea!
The Difference Between Black Tea & Green Tea
You might be surprised to hear that black tea and green tea actually start out the same. As two of the ‘true teas’, they both come from the Camellia sinensis plant. However, as we know, they end up making very different cups.
What makes this happen to the leaves? Let’s explore the differences in origin and processing, which affects the look of black tea vs green tea.
Historically, tea was native to China and India, but today it is grown all over the world, including Sri Lanka, Kenya, South America and even the cooler temperatures of Europe.
These differences in location begin to set our teas on different courses. The main things that affect the leaves include:
- Soil type
- Harvesting practices
Each of these elements can influence the size, color and flavor at this stage.
Black tea still mainly originates from China, India and Sri Lanka. In fact, in the case of India and Sri Lanka, it’s these locations that give the different types their names. Assam and Darjeeling are regions, whereas Ceylon is a historic name for Sri Lanka.
Green tea is native to China and India, but we’re seeing growth in Japan, South America and Europe too. However, it’s most strongly associated with China as it is grown all over the country and has been used for centuries in medicine and culture.
How the leaves become tea is where we really see the differences between black tea and green tea emerge.
Intrinsic to most tea leaf processing is oxidation. This is the exposure of enzymes in the leaves to oxygen, which happens when they are broken or split in any way. The result of oxidation is a darker color.
Black tea is the darkest of all the teas because it is the most oxidized.
- First, it is harvested and withered in heat to reduce the moisture content.
- It is then rolled by hand or machine to create minuscule breaks in the leaves and spread out on trays, allowing oxidation over the maximum surface area.
- Finally, the leaves are fired in an oven to stop the oxidation process and packed.
Green tea sees much less in terms of processing, and this is the secret to its signature color. In some plantations in Japan, the leaves are even grown in the shade to minimize sun absorption and retain their bright green chlorophyll!
- Mostly the youngest, freshest leaves and buds are picked.
- They are dried using mainly artisanal methods and sometimes even just the sun, especially when it comes to organic green teas.
- Green tea is sometimes fried, but rarely steamed. This heating is done to prevent oxidation and the darkened color of black tea.
Now we know how the growth and production process works in black tea vs green tea, let’s look deeper into how these differences might affect them.
Black Tea’s Benefits
Many of tea’s health benefits, and so the extra reason billions of us love it so much, are to do with substances contained within it called catechins. These are types of antioxidants, which work to stop cell aging and can help with a variety of conditions:
- ‘Bad’ LDL cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Heart attacks
- High blood pressure
Due to black tea’s heavy oxidation, it may lose some of these valuable catechins. However, it’s worth noting that tea alone isn’t a rich enough source to prevent or cure these conditions, so the reduction should not make black tea significantly less beneficial.
Black tea’s extended fermentation process does make it a uniquely rich source of substances called theaflavins – about 3–6% of the leaves. These protect the heart and may actually support the body’s natural antioxidant production.
Caffeine is another black tea benefit and favorite advantage over coffee. Its typically much lower amounts, around 30–70mg per cup, mean that you get the mind and energy boost without the jitters and over-stimulation.
Check out these minimally processed organic black teas to get the optimum caffeine whilst retaining exciting flavors.
Black tea also contains a minimal amount more fluoride than green tea. Fluoride supports bone and teeth health.
Green Tea’s Benefits
As we’ve seen, green tea’s lack of processing and oxidation means that it retains more of those valuable catechins. They work to eliminate the free radicals, which lead to cell aging and death.
Further to this, matcha green tea is even better as it also uses the whole leaf, ground up and dissolved in the tea, so nothing is lost.
Combined with EGCG, the tannins in green tea can help to combat viruses. They protect the cell walls from limiting transmission.
In terms of caffeine, green tea’s benefits share those of black tea. Although it contains slightly less (25–40mg and 40–60mg for matcha), there is variation and overlap between the types depending on the soil, climate and height the leaves are grown at.
Green tea also contains L-theanine, which is good for mental awareness, especially when combined with the lightly stimulating effects of caffeine. There have been studies into the increased attention brought on by these two substances.
Black tea vs Green Tea for Weight Loss
These two tea superpowers might be good for general health, but what about the big question – everyone wants to know about weight loss.
It turns out that catechins, those antioxidant powerhouses, can also speed up metabolism and burn fat stores. Green tea, with its slightly higher content, could be more beneficial here.
However, there have also been studies which show that black tea, when drunk over three months, also led to weight loss and aided cardiovascular disease.
Black tea’s increased theaflavins have also been shown to break down fat.
As with any health benefits, back tea vs green tea for weight loss is not a magic trick. Nothing alone will solve these problems, but the teas are certainly a great part of a healthy diet. Another benefit to any tea is that they will help you feel fuller for longer.
Health is one thing, but which do you actually want to drink? Let’s look at black tea vs green tea in terms of taste.
Which Tea Tastes Better?
As we know, the growing region, rainfall and production process all affect the tea by making those differences between black tea and green tea. Taste is a big part of that, along with how you brew it of course.
SEE ALSO: How to Brew Tea the Right Way
Within each type of tea, the varieties all have different tastes, whatever your preference and the occasion.
In general, black tea is more malty, stronger and even sometimes sweet. That’s why it’s sometimes taken with milk, to cut this potential bitterness.
- Assam and Darjeeling are malty and floral
- Ceylon is strong, rich and sometimes chocolatey
- Early Grey is infused with citrus-flavored bergamot and so is sweet and light
- Chinese black teas come in hundreds of varieties. They are complex and can even boast pine and tobacco notes. Check out some of our favorite Chinese Teas.
Green teas are more herbal and can sometimes taste stronger but without the bitterness.
- Long Jing from China is nutty with a smooth finish
- Gunpowder green tea is shaped into small pellets and has a bold, minty flavor
- Japanese teas contain a higher concentration of amino acids for that umami taste
- Gyokuro is the most exported variety. It is rich, combining sweet and savory flavors
Here are some of our favorite Green Teas.
In terms of which tea tastes better, it’s a matter of…well, taste! It really is up to you and what you like as these two are so different.
So, Which Tea is the Healthiest?
A bit like with taste, with black tea vs green tea, both have health benefits and may help more or less with different things.
There are some similarities; they have been shown to be equally effective in preventing the formation of plaque in blood vessels. The range of reduction was between 26–68% and both reduced LDL cholesterol.
For health, teas alone won’t prevent or cure any conditions or help you lose weight. They’re certainly good options, but must be combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle.
After all our research, it really is up to you. There’s nothing major about either to say one is better than the other.
There are certainly differences between black and green tea, and if you have a preference, go for it. If you ask us, we think you should enjoy them both!
Black tea vs green tea, which is your favorite?
Tell us in the comments below!