Cups of tea containing green and black tea

Black Tea vs Green Tea

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Black and green tea are among the most popular tea variations because of their taste and benefits. If you’re wondering about black tea vs green tea, it helps to learn their similarities and differences to decide which one would benefit you the most.

Black Tea vs Green Tea: General Overview

When going over tea variations, even black and green tea seem puzzling if you can’t distinguish them. Let’s go over the background in this black tea vs green tea comparison to help you get started. 

Black Tea

Black tea is one of the major types of tea, yet more oxidized and stronger in flavor than the others. It comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, typically from China, Sri Lanka, or India.

Historically, black tea originated in China, where people fermented leaves to extend the shelf life of tea. Fermentation became the ‘darker’ process, which then evolved into black tea. The British brought black tea to Europe in the 18th century, and it became an exotic drink for the aristocracy.

Two cups of black tea on wooden coasters

Nowadays, it is a popular variation among tea drinkers because its fermentation process prevents black tea from tasting as vegetal as other concentrated teas. As a testament, the United States Tea Association reports that black tea accounts for 84% of tea consumption in the country.

Green Tea

Green tea is another well-known variation of tea that comes from Camellia sinensis. Unlike black tea, green tea doesn’t undergo a complete oxidation process, retaining most nutrients.

The unearthing of green tea traces back to 2737 B.C. in China, where it was a refreshing beverage for the wealthy in Chinese society. Fast forward to the 14th century; green tea became commercially accessible to the general public for medical purposes. 

The Europeans eventually brought green tea to the West in the 19th century. Soon after, it became popular in America for tea parties. At present, research even estimates that the global industry trend for green tea will reach $25.2 billion by 2024.

Black Tea vs Green Tea

As we go deeper, weighing the similarities and differences between green and black tea can help you decide which one is best for you.

Similarities

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, there’s an expected 2.2% annual growth for black tea production and a 7.7% yearly increase for green tea by 2027. This is partly due to the numerous health benefits that black and green tea share.

  • Antioxidants: Black and green tea are rich in antioxidants that can help fight cardiovascular conditions and cancer. For starters, drinking 3 cups of black or green tea reduces the risk for coronary heart disease.
  • Catechin content: Green tea and black tea contain catechins that speed up metabolism to burn body fat quickly. These compounds make you feel full, helping you lose weight.
  • Flavonoids: Flavonoids are compounds that repel toxins in the body. These compounds block the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol to protect the bloodstream and artery walls. 
  • L-theanine: Black tea and green tea have L-theanine since they both come from the same leaves. L-theanine is an amino acid that calms the mind and improves mental focus.
  • Caffeine Content: A cup of black tea has 42 to 73 milligrams of caffeine, whereas green tea contains 25 to 35 milligrams. About 64% of Americans drink a cup of coffee daily. Tea is an excellent alternative to coffee if you still want to get your daily dose of caffeine mix.

Differences

Green tea and black tea share some similarities. However, they still have contrasting aspects that can help you decide which one to drink according to your situation.

Black loose tea leaves on a white container

Production and Processing

One of the key differences is that green tea is only partially fermented, whereas black tea is heavily fermented and oxidized. 

To produce black tea, rolled leaves get exposed to the air to prompt oxidation. This causes the leaves to turn dark and create an intense flavor.

In contrast, green tea leaves get steamed or pan-fired right away to stop oxidation. This process preserves moisture and ensures the leaves stay green.

Polyphenol Composition

Cancer causes 1 in 4 deaths in America. While green tea and black tea have polyphenol compositions, green tea has more epigallocatechin-3-gallate. EGCG is among the most powerful antioxidants for cancer chemoprevention. 

Meanwhile, black tea has more theaflavins due to its high oxidation process. This compound reduces the formation of free radicals in the body to protect the cells. Theaflavins also provide the rich red color of black tea.

Brewing and Serving

Brewing is another notable difference between black and green tea. Use boiling water, up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit, to steep black tea for 3 to 5 minutes.

On the other hand, green tea only needs around 175 degrees Fahrenheit to brew for 1 to 2 minutes. The hotter the water, the bitter the taste since you’ll burn the leaves more. 

Traditionally, green tea is served without any sweeteners. Meanwhile, some people choose to add honey, sugar, milk, or lemon to black tea.

Taste and Appearance

Black teas can have an earthy and more potent taste with a dash of honey, spice, and malt. You may also notice a more acidic pang when drinking black tea, especially leaves coming from India.

Green teas are milder and more delicate. Chinese green teas can have a grassy flavoring, whereas Japanese green teas can have a hint of umami. 

In terms of color, black tea has a lavish, reddish copper tone. Green tea can have a pale golden or mossy green hue.

A tea pot, two small bowls of loose leaf, and a cup of green tea on a white surface

Major Distinguishing Factor

The key difference is that black tea is fermented and oxidized, whereas green tea is partially fermented. In effect, green tea retains more antioxidants, while black tea has higher caffeine content. Green tea has a milder, slightly pungent taste, while black tea has a more robust and acidic flavor.

When to Use Black Tea

Black tea is a perfect choice if you want a more potent and richer taste. It’s best to drink black tea if you’re looking for a caffeine kick. Black tea is also favorable if you use sweeteners or other additions.

When to Use Green Tea

Green tea is a much better option if you’re sensitive to stimulants like caffeine. Drink green tea if you want to get as many antioxidants as possible. It’s also suitable for those looking for calming and relaxing effects.

The Verdict

Black tea and green tea may differ in some aspects, yet they both offer several health benefits. Understanding their distinctions can help you appreciate them in their unique ways and decide how to incorporate black and green teas in your tea time and meal plans.

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