Green Tea has become one of the Super Beverages as far as health is concern. It’s undoubtedly perceived to be the healthiest amongst all tea. The exponential growth in green tea consumption is mainly because of its health quotient and less to do with the taste quotient. And as tea enthusiast, I can tell you this just by sipping a cup of each type. Green tea is not a very delicious drink by any measure. Even the finest Chinese or Japanese tea are not very fine in the taste buds. It has more astringency, it’s bitter and the aromas are not all savory nor salivating. On the other hand, a good quality black tea is flavorful and aromatic. Black tea is the highest consumed tea in the world, with more than 65% of tea production coming from black tea. Darjeeling is known to be “The Champagne” of tea in the world and it famous for its muscatel orthodox black tea and not because of its green tea.
So it Green Tea really healthier than Black Tea? Despite popular believe, the answer can’t be a hands down conclusive one but it is somewhere blowing in the wind.
All types of tea comes from the same tea plant cammelis sinensis. The only difference between a Green Tea and Black Tea is in the processing method. Green Tea is less processed and less oxidized, while Black Tea is highly oxidized. To have a better understanding, let’s delved a bit deeper at the chemical level.
The health quotient of tea is derived mostly from its antioxidant properties which comes from a group of compound called POLYPHENOL. There are myriads of compounds which form polyphenol. Catechins which comprises of chemicals like EC, ECG, EGC & ECGC is known to be the antioxidant provider in green tea. During Green Tea processing, these catechins are locked down by preventing them from oxidizing by applying heating. So, when you brew your green tea, all these catechins get transferred in your tea liquor and enters your system. However in the case of Black Tea, these catechins are allowed to oxidize further by exposing them with oxygen. The oxidation process converts catechins into other various compounds and of which an orange pigment called THEAFLAVIN is also known for its antioxidant properties. Theaflavin is also a group of compound which comprises of theaflavin (TF1), theaflavin-3-gallate (TF2A), theaflavin-3′-gallate (TF2B) and theaflavin-3,3′-digallate (TF3).
Below is a pictorial presentation of PHOLYPHENOL break-down in tea processing.
A research was done at Chinese University in Hong Kong to find out the antioxidant power of Theaflavins in Black Tea versus Catechins in Green Tea by some research scholars. Comparison was made on two finest tea of China, Longjing Green Tea and Qimen Black Tea. The research was done by examining the relative antioxidant potencies of THEAFLAVIN (TF1, TF2A, TF2B and TF3) in comparison with those of CATECHINS (EC, ECG, EGC and EGCG) using human LDL oxidation as a model. The resultant equation of the study in terms of ANTIOXIDANT POTENCY was:
TF3 > ECG > EGCG ≥ TF2B ≥ TF2A > TF1 ≥ EC > EGC
The conclusion of the study was that Theaflavin in black tea possess at least the same antioxidant potency as catechins present in green tea.
Even though the antioxidant property of Black Tea might be the same or higher on account of Theaflavin, but the content of THEAFALVIN in BLACK TEA LEAVES is much lesser than those of CATECHIN in Green Tea. Theafalvin comprises of just about 1.5% of Black Tea while Catechin in green tea ranges between 6-16%.
Therefore, it may be safe enough to say that despite BLACK TEA antioxidants maybe more effective, but GREEN TEA score an edge because it has more concentration of antioxidant materials.