Tea Scapes’ Blog

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Black Tea vs. Green Tea

Posted by Susan Lutfallah on June 6, 2009

Antioxidant Showdown

Until recently, medicinal research regarding tea has focused on green tea – actually, this is understandable, given that green tea is loaded with the compound epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg), a powerful and easily detected anti-oxidant.

Generally speaking, since the fermentation process used to make black tea converts EGCg into other compounds, researchers in the past assumed black tea had less health benefits than green tea.

However, recent studies indicate the compounds contained in black tea – theaflavins and thearubigens – do more than contribute to its dark color and rich flavour – that is, theaflavins and thearubigens also provide health benefits which were originally attributed solely to green tea!

A recent article by Dr. Leung at the Chinese University of Hong Kong reported that drinking black tea has benefits equal to those of drinking green tea in terms of their antioxidant capacities – briefly, this is because theaflavins present in black tea possess at least the same antioxidant potency as catechins present in green tea.

As reported in related studies, it is clear that a group of theaflavins (TF) in black tea, specifically theaflavin-3,3′-digallate (TF3), has strong antioxidant activity similar to (-)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is a major antioxidant in green tea.

However, the concentration of diverse antioxidants in the different teas should be first considered before drawing any conclusions about overall health benefits of teas.

In several studies, the total concentration of antioxidants in green tea and black tea were tested – for example, in a study from Cornell University, black and green teas contained total phenols equal to 124 and 165 mg gallic acid (an antioxidant measurement standard), respectively. Moreover, those same researchers found that the antioxidant capacity per serving of green tea (436 mg vitamin C equivalents) was much higher than that of black tea (239 mg).

Therefore, we must conclude that green tea has more health benefits than an equal volume of black tea in terms of antioxidant capacity.

Ok ok, but what about the TASTE?!

Let’s be honest – the recent surge of health food products may help lengthen our lifespan, but they don’t do much in terms of stimulating our taste buds. Put plainly, the taste of green tea for some folks is a major turn off – on the other hand, some don’t mind the taste of green tea initially, but then find the ‘grassy’ aftertaste to be unpleasant.

On the contrary, black tea tasting ‘sweeter’ and it being more pleasantly smelling is commonly accepted, at least in Western culture – conversely, in China and many Eastern countries, the taste of green tea is preferred to black tea. However, black tea is the most consumed type of tea world-wide – therefore, if it is a consumption numbers match-up, black tea wins it.

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