Green Tea vs Black Tea: Breaking Down the Differences

August 5, 2022

OK, sure it’s obvious that green tea and black tea are dissimilar to one another, but what are the key differences? Well, they vary in terms of how they are processed, their health benefits, caffeine level, and even their taste, and how they are consumed.

Since these are quite a few differences, here is a breakdown of how these teas really measure up against one another:

Is Green Tea or Black Tea Better for You?

Now, the piece of information that you are most interested in is which type of tea has the most health benefits for you.

Green tea tends to be hyped up as having more health benefits and, to a certain extent, this is actually true. See, green and black tea get most of their beneficial properties from compounds known as antioxidants.

Black tea contains antioxidants known as theaflavins, while green tea is higher in compounds known as EGCG. However, both these components tend to have similar antioxidant activities. Therefore, they can produce similar benefits.

However, researchers discovered that with commercial teas, green tea has a higher antioxidant capacity per serving. Due to this, you can gain a greater number of health advantages by drinking green tea. In this instance, green tea would be deemed as the healthier option.

Two people sitting while holding a cup of tea

Health Benefits of Black Tea vs. Green Tea

Here are the top positive properties associated with green tea:

  • May Protect Against Cancer: the antioxidant activity helps to fight off free radicals that can cause mutations in the body that lead to cancer.
  • Boosts Immunity: has antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial tendencies that can help to keep various pathogens at bay.
  • May Prevent Diabetes: helps to lower and maintain blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
  • Boosts Bone Density: prevents oxidation-induced damage to bone helping to maintain density and to prevent osteoporosis.  
  • May Increase Lifespan: green tea could play a role in helping people live longer. In one study, people who drank green tea were 76% less likely to die than non-green tea drinkers.
  • Can Help with Weight Management: as green tea can boost fat loss and improve your metabolism while curbing your appetite, it could potentially make it easier for you to lose weight.

Advantages of Black Tea

These are the top advantages associated with black tea:

  • Boosts Gut Health: polyphenols in black tea boost good gut bacteria, creating a probiotic effect and reducing the impact of bad bacteria.
  • May Prevent Breast Cancer: may help to overcome the increase in hormone spread tumors that can cause the metastasis of breast cancer.
  • Boosts Alertness: boosts mental alertness and attention, allowing people to concentrate for longer periods of time and complete work more effectively.

Like green tea, black tea can also help to maintain blood sugar levels, improve weight loss attempts, and reduce cholesterol. However, green tea tends to have a greater impact in this areas and thus is seen as the better option for such disorders.

Mutual Benefits of Drinking Black and Green Tea

As mentioned, black and green tea do have similar antioxidant activity. As a result, they do have similar levels of effectiveness.

To begin with, there is evidence that both teas can help to reduce inflammation in the body. In turn, this phenomenon can help to minimize the build-up of plaque within the arteries, improving your heart health over a longer period of time.

There is also some indication that teas can improve vascular reactivity. This means that your body may not have as intense reactions to stress. Such an effect could help to lower your chances of being diagnosed with stress-related health issues.

Green and black tea can help to lower your LDL cholesterol level which is known as “bad” cholesterol. The teas also work to lower and stabilize your blood pressure. Once again, these benefits could prevent a number of different cardiovascular issues.

Now, in population based studies, it was found that people who drank either black or green tea were less likely to suffer from strokes or heart attacks. While tea no doubt plays a role, researchers were unclear as to whether the teas were the main reason for this phenomenon.

Does Black or Green Tea Have More Caffeine?

It is a well-established fact that there is caffeine in tea, but most people automatically assume that black tea has the most amount of caffeine. However, this isn’t the case at all.

Unlike what many people believe, there isn’t a correlation between the tea type and the level of caffeine in the leaves. Instead, the amount of caffeine is dependent on the type of tea leaves as well as how the tea leaves are grown, processed, and brewed.

In fact, the main reason that people assume black tea has more caffeine is due to the way it is brewed. You will use hotter water and steep the leaves for longer. This allows for a greater amount of caffeine to make its way into your cup.

There is also the fact that the Assamica varietal tends to have more caffeine than the Chinese variation. To add to this, teas that are grown in the shade have more caffeine than those that are grown in the sun.

If the plucked leaves contain more tips and buds than stems, then they will have more caffeine. As for processing, highly rolled and powdered teas have more amounts of caffeine than looser whole leaves.

So, you can’t really tell whether a particular brand of green tea is going to have more or less caffeine than a black tea from another manufacturer. Instead, you will have to check individual values and make this decision for yourself.

Woman pouring tea from glass tea pot

What is the Fundamental Difference Between Black and Green Tea?

As both green and black teas are derived from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, the main way that they differ is in how they are processed. In short, black teas are oxidized while green tea leaves are not.

All tea leaves are withered. Once this process is over, though, black tea leaves are bruised to release certain enzymes and compounds. Then, the leaves are left in an open air area where the oxidation process will take place.

With green tea leaves, however, this process is halted. This is accomplished by mildly heating the leaves. This destroys the enzymes that encourage oxidation. The process also works to preserve the flavor of the green tea leaves.

In some countries like China, the leaves are gently heated in a wok. In places like Japan, though, the green tea leaves are steamed. The method of heating will determine the final flavor of the green teas.

Green Tea vs. Black Tea Taste

Of course, when most people think of differences between green and black tea, they immediately imagine the taste. This is because these two teas have vastly different aromas and flavor profiles. This is to do with how they are processed.

Now, there is no standard for how green tea can taste. The exact flavor will depend on the variety of tea grown, where it is grown, how it is green, and how it is processed. More often than not, though, green tea will be described as being astringent, grassy, and vegetal. It may also have floral undertones.

Black tea, on the other hand, is often thought of as robust and dark. As with green tea, though, the flavor profile can vary quite a bit. This means that certain teas can be slightly more malty while others can be considered bitter.

Black tea works well with milk and sugar as well as lemon and other citrus fruits. Green tea, however, should be drunk as is without any other flavor additions.

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Here are the top differences between green tea and black tea. There may be more variations and similarities than you initially realized, but the results are nonetheless interesting.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure to check out our Pinterest page. We have tons of other information on all kinds of teas.

About the Author
Dr. Dheena Sadik
Dr. Dheena Sadik is a consultant Nutritionist and Dietician. She has over a decade of experience in the health and fitness industry.
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