What’s the Difference Between Green and Black Tea?

published Feb 27, 2014
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(Image credit: HamsterMan)

What makes green tea green and black tea black? Is one better for you than the other? Learn about the differences between these two types of tea…

(Image credit: ub-foto)

Black and green tea come from the same shrub called Camellia sinensis. In both cases harvesters pluck the uppermost buds and leaves from the plant. So what’s the difference? It comes down to processing and oxidation, the chemical process that causes browning.

Green tea

To produce green tea, leaves are harvested, withered, and then heated through steaming (Japanese style) or pan-firing (Chinese style). This process halts oxidation so the leaves retain their color and delicate, fresh flavor.

Black tea

To produce black tea, leaves are harvested and withered and then crushed, torn, curled, or rolled and allowed to oxidize before being dried. As a result the leaves darken and develop a stronger flavor and aroma.

Which has more caffeine?

Although green tea typically has less caffeine than black tea, this is not always the case. Caffeine content may vary depending on the plant varietal, processing, and brewing methods. According to the Mayo Clinic, the caffeine content of green tea ranges from 24-40 mg per cup and black tea ranges from 14-61 mg per cup.

Which has more antioxidants?

Green and black tea both contain antioxidants, which may prevent cancer and other diseases. For years research focused on the health properties of green tea. Recent studies indicate that black tea has benefits as well. In each case oxidation or non-oxidation gives the tea a different set of antioxidant compounds.

Brewing tips

For optimum flavor, pay attention to water temperature and time:

Over the next couple of months we will be exploring green and black tea in more depth. Leave a comment if there is something you are especially curious about!