What’s In A Name?
Camellia sinensis. The leaves of this plant are the source of all types of tea – black, green, white, or oolong. That hot cuppa that we look forward to in the morning or after a long day’s work is from these beautiful leaves. But how they are treated determines the type of tea we end up sipping.
For green tea, the leaves are harvested, withered, and then heated, either using steam or by pan-firing. This stops further oxidation and helps the leaves retain their delicate color and flavor.
For black tea, instead of heating, the leaves are crushed, rolled, torn, and allowed to oxidize before being dried. This gives rise to a stronger flavor and aroma.
How Do They Fare?
Most of us consume multiple cups of our go-to beverage, be it green or black tea, during the day. So it’s important to know what benefits they bring to our body.
A study by Dorsten et al. examined the effect of black and green tea on human metabolism. The metabolic boost of green tea was found to surpass that of black tea.
Green tea and its polyphenol components caused a stronger effect on the important and useful process of oxidative energy metabolism. This was indicated by a greater release of citric acid components in the urine. Oxidative energy metabolism is the first half of the metabolic process, in which the cells break down molecules into energy. In the second half, this energy is used to build molecules, that is, tissues and organs. 1
A Pot Of Anti-Oxidants
Typically, we drink beverages like tea and coffee for the kick of caffeine. Additionally, they are also a source of anti-oxidants, important for the repair and well-being of the human body. So does the level of caffeine and anti-oxidants vary in black tea and green tea?
Catechins are a key component of green tea. In black tea, they are converted to theaflavins during oxidation and fermentation. Both these antioxidants are forms of polyphenols and act as protectors against heart problems, liver disease, and cancer.2
Studies on the anti-oxidants in green tea and black tea suggest that the potency of anti-oxidants is about the same in both forms, indicating that both teas score equal on this parameter.3
Caffeine is a miracle potion that helps us stay alert and awake. Anyone working or studying late into the night will vouch for the wake-up kick of this stimulant found in tea and coffee.
Caffeine was found to be at different levels in green tea and black tea. Black tea, studies showed, had a higher level of caffeine and hence would probably give a bigger kick. 4
Which One Then?
It turns out both black tea and green tea have a favorable effect on your health. Green tea scores in aiding metabolism and black tea scores for its higher caffeine kick. Both are equally good sources of anti-oxidants. Having said that, the real benefits of green tea or black tea are numerous, so next time think of tea when you are looking for something to drink!
|↑1||Van Dorsten, Ferdi A., Clare A. Daykin, Theo PJ Mulder, and John PM Van Duynhoven. “Metabonomics approach to determine metabolic differences between green tea and black tea consumption.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 54, no. 18 (2006): 6929-6938.|
|↑2||Imai, K., and K. Nakachi. “Cross sectional study of effects of drinking green tea on cardiovascular and liver diseases.” Bmj 310, no. 6981 (1995): 693-696.|
|↑3||Leung, Lai Kwok, Yalun Su, Ruoyun Chen, Zesheng Zhang, Yu Huang, and Zhen-Yu Chen. “Theaflavins in black tea and catechins in green tea are equally effective antioxidants.” The Journal of nutrition 131, no. 9 (2001): 2248-2251.|
|↑4||Lin, Yung-Sheng, Yao-Jen Tsai, Jyh-Shyan Tsay, and Jen-Kun Lin. “Factors affecting the levels of tea polyphenols and caffeine in tea leaves.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 51, no. 7 (2003): 1864-1873.Harvard|