Which tea is better: black tea or green tea?
Black and green tea enjoy great popularity alike. Both types of tea can score with many positive attributes: they are supposed to keep us awake and alert, prevent diseases, as well as having a positive effect on our appearance, such as our skin. We compare the two types of tea and explain each tea’s advantages and disadvantages.
Differences between green and black tea
Color and taste
As a matter of fact, green and black tea are obtained from the same plant, camellia sinensis. The only thing differentiating the two types of tea is the method of production which causes each tea to have a different color. During the production of green tea, oxidation is prevented. Consequently, the tea retains the initial green color and also a slightly bitter taste. Black tea, on the other hand, is supposed to oxidize in order to ignite its typical aroma. The tea leaves are first rolled up and crushed to release the contained essential oils. These oils then react with the air and cause the black tea’s typical dark color and delicious taste to emerge.
Yet, the two types of tea not only have different colors and taste, they also differ in their effect on our bodies. In general, it can be said that green tea is more beneficial for our health due to the many active ingredients contained in it. During the oxidation process, many of the tea plant’s active ingredients are broken down. Hence, the active ingredients are less present in black tea as compared to green tea. Consequently, green tea has more minerals, vitamins, and trace elements than black tea.
Green tea is also the clear winner in terms of its caffeine content: green tea can contain as much caffeine as coffee. In particular, so-called “shaded tea varieties” such as matcha and tencha have particularly high caffeine levels. However, there are also green tea varieties that have significantly less caffeine than coffee. In general, it can be said that black tea contains less caffeine than green tea. On average, black tea has only half as much caffeine as coffee.
Yet, the amount of caffeine in your tea also depends on how long you let the tea steep. Black tea should be steeped for two to three minutes if you want a stimulating effect. If you let it steep longer, the tea has a more calming effect. Green tea should also not be steeped too long. Experts recommend only two minutes of steeping for many green tea varieties. The advantage of both, meaning green and black tea compared to coffee, is that tea releases the caffeine more slowly in your body and, as a consequence, keeps you awake for longer. However, if you need a quick energy kick, coffee is the better choice.
Advantages of green tea
As already mentioned, green tea has a higher percentage of active ingredients than black tea. For example, it contains more polyphenols which have an antioxidant effect. These polyphenols protect our body from free radicals and, as a consequence, can minimize the risk of cancer. The antioxidants also have other positive effects: they help to rejuvenate the skin and prevent wrinkles. Furthermore, green tea also prevents cardiovascular diseases and inflammation of the gums due to its anti-inflammatory effects. Thanks to all these benefits, green tea can contribute to an extended life expectancy.
Yet, if you want to benefit from all these positive effects, you should make sure that the green tea is prepared correctly. Additionally, correct preparation saves you from the often very strong and bitter taste that green tea is also known for. The rule is: the longer the infusion and the higher the water temperature, the more of the tea’s ingredients are released into the water. One benefit of these factors is that it also increases the tea’s positive effects. However, with a longer infusion time and higher water temperature, the tea also becomes more bitter.
Therefore, green tea tastes best if it is added at a water temperature of not higher than 80 degrees celsius and infused for no longer than 5 minutes. More detailed information on the preparation of the different green tea varieties can be found along with the tea that you purchase, within the packaging or on the manufacturer’s website.
Interestingly, green tea can also be used externally. For example, in case of a sunburn, you can put a cloth dipped in green tea on the affected areas. Let it stay there for about 15 minutes. It will help against sunburn by lessening the redness due to the tea’s calming effects.
Green tea is also said to have a purifying effect: it binds dietary fats and stimulates fat burning. In addition, the bitter substances contained in green tea help to curb the appetite and thus also support the weight loss process.