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.
The black tea vs green tea debate has been going on for many years. Both teas hold a sacred place in many cultures around the world and form an irreplaceable part of many people’s day.
They are not only delicious but also super healthy. Is there one which has the edge in terms of health – is green tea better than black tea or the other way around? Should you include green or black tea in your daily routine? Which tea will help you lose weight faster? Which tea has more soothing qualities? Which tea is better at getting you through the day?
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? What is the difference between green and black tea? Why do the two teas end up looking and tasting so different? Let’s explore the difference between green and black tea in origin and processing. These are what 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. Many of the nuances in flavor and color can be derived from the locations where the tea is grown. 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. This is through maturity, nutrients and oxidation. Your favorite tea is probably completely different from your neighbors because of one of these factors. Whether as a child or an adult you will have developed a taste for a more mature or more oxidized tea.
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.
Black tea has become the most popular for drinkers in the west, with the demand for varieties like English Breakfast and Earl Grey actually fuelling black tea’s growth as an industry. It is often consumed throughout the day and sometimes with milk and sugar.
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. Nevertheless, green tea is also a mainstay in any tea shop in the west and also in many restaurants.
How the leaves become tea is where we really see the difference between green and black tea emerge. It’s where these leaves really begin to change. It is where the nuanced qualities are allowed to develop and mature and produce flavor.
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. You can do this at home if you go out and buy your own tea leaves.
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.
These three processes allow a lot of oxygen into the leaves, which brings the dark brown and black colors. It also adds to that flavor. As we’ll see, we have to be particularly careful when steeping black tea as it is already quite oxidised. Let’s avoid those bitter tastes!
Green tea sees much less in terms of processing, and this is the secret to its signature color. The vibrant and soothing green color is part of the appeal of drinking a warm cup of green tea. It is definitely one of the most aesthetically pleasing cups of tea.
- 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.
After examining the process we can see that black tea and green tea go through such different processes – almost polar opposites! It’s hard to imagine they come from the same plant. We’re glad this expert crafting happens though, as it brings us more types of delicious cups to enjoy!
Within these two types of processes, there is also plenty of room for variation. The reason we have so many types of tea is that people have successfully experimented with these processes to produce new flavors and colors.
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.
We all love that morning java jolt, but sometimes we want the kick without all that extra caffeine. If you’re wondering “does black tea have caffeine?”, the good news is, yes! You can get the perk while enjoying your favorite cup.
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.
It is one of the many English breakfast tea benefits and part of the reason why so many people in the UK drink tea. “Its smooth, full-bodied flavor with floral undertones”(teaforte) allows the jolt of caffeine to go in without fuss. Taste is the most important thing about tea and the moderate flavor of good black tea is the main reason for its popularity.
Check out these minimally processed organic black teas to get the optimum caffeine whilst retaining exciting flavors. Our favorite black tea brands are the ones that use premium, responsibly sourced ingredients. Your local organic store or tea expert will be able to point you in the right direction.
Black tea also contains a minimal amount more fluoride than green tea. Fluoride supports bone and teeth health. “The phosphorus and magnesium found in English breakfast tea are important for strong, resilient bones”(teaforte). Drinking quality black tea on a regular basis is an easy way to keep your body strong and healthy.
Who knew there was so much going on in those little leaves?!
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. Does this mean that green tea is better than black tea? Well, catechins work to eliminate the free radicals, which lead to cell aging and death.
In fact, green tea is seen to be higher in EGCG, a particular type of antioxidant which combats cancer and Alzheimer’s and helps heart health. It does this through slowing down cell-aging and damage. So green tea has its own significant benefits too!
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 and limit the harmful particles’ 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.
Is green tea better than coffee? Yes, in many ways. The small amounts of caffeine in green tea are more manageable than coffee. A cup of coffee may give you more energy but will also cause you to crash harder which is not sustainable in the long term. Green tea is a far more forgiving companion to a long day at work!
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.
Is cold green tea good for you?
Yes. Just in the same way hot green tea can help you, cold green tea can also be good for you. The benefits of hot green tea are more significant. Apparently the antioxidants contained within green tea are more potent when hot.
Nevertheless, iced green tea is a very popular tea of choice around the world. Don’t worry if you are not partial to hot drinks! Drinking 3 to 5 cups of cold green tea a day will bring you all the benefits of regular tea drinking. The difference is not that significant.
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, black 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.
Drinking black or green tea is a far better idea than drinking sugary drinks or sodas when you’re dieting. You will feel better when you exercise and you will be able to enjoy your downtime more. The artificial highs and tastes derived from sugary drinks are inelegant compared to a good cup of tea.
Obviously, a properly balanced and healthy diet and a good exercise plan is the best way to lose weight. But it is good to know that a few cups of black or green tea every week won’t hinder any progress. In fact, both teas can truly help you live a healthier life.
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. That’s the main place you’ll be able to see the difference between green and black tea.
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. During the week you may be partial to a quick cup of black tea and on the weekend you may relax with a soothing cup of green tea. Of course, there is a tea for every occasion.
In general, black tea is more malty, stronger and even sometimes sweet. That’s why it’s sometimes taken with milk in many places, to cut this potential bitterness. The last thing you want is an overly bitter aftertaste hanging around.
- 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.
As one of the most popular teas, especially in the western world, there are tons of black tea brands. The store shelves are lined with black teas boasting the richest flavors. It can be difficult to choose at first! We recommend finding the flavors you like first. Is it Early Grey’s fragrance or Assam’s maltiness?
Once you know that, check out if there’s anywhere near you that carries black tea brands that are great at making your favorites. Some of your tea-loving friends might have recommendations too. People are always willing to talk about their favorite tea, particularly if they’ve just discovered a new brand!
One of the best ways to find new flavors is online, of course. To get you started, here are some of the black tea brands we just love to sip.
Green teas are more herbal and can sometimes taste stronger but without the bitterness. Green teas are also more likely to serve as a refresher or a palate cleanser.
- 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. It is good to experiment with a few different types of both black and green tea. This will help you come to a decision and allow you to know that you have chosen the best tea for you.
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. It is important to understand that neither tea can work miracles. They are both popular teas that have many variations, all of which have different health benefits.
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.
Plaque in blood vessels is usually made of fat and cholesterol. It causes veins and arteries to harden and narrow. Over time, this can lead to increased risk of heart complications. Obviously it is good that both teas can in some way help to mitigate the risk of these serious conditions.
Many people think green tea is better than black tea, but really, both are good in their own way. You could even have both, in moderation. Expert advice is for no more than five cups per day.
You don’t want to be buzzing on caffeine all day. It is something people often forget. While obviously not as caffeinated as a cup of coffee, a cup of tea can also contain a significant amount of caffeine. If you want to avoid this try herbal infusions, rooibos or decaffeinated black and green tea.
While both teas do have benefits, it’s worth keeping the big picture in mind.
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.
If you enjoy tea, and it’s safe for you to do so, go ahead and drink it. In many ways it’s a healthier alternative to plain water than many other drinks.
Indulging in a warm cup of tea is the perfect way to end the day. Whether you choose black tea for its health benefits or green tea for its taste both are great hot beverages to warm your soul.
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!