Tea is said to be the most popular beverage in the world. It’s been consumed for thousands of years by millions, perhaps billions, of people.
Tea has also been shown to have many health benefits thought to be related to its antioxidant properties. Tea contains flavonoids known as catechins that are anti-inflammatory and have a range of health benefits.
There are different types of teas, the most commonly consumed is black and green. Here are some of the benefits and differences.
First, they both come from the camellia Sinensis shrub that’s native to China and India. Green tea contains slightly more health-promoting flavonoids than black tea because of how they’re processed.
Green tea leaves are steamed, this keeps the green colour. The heat stops oxidation from turning them black. Then they’re dried to preserve the colour and flavonoids which are the antioxidants.
Black tea leaves are NOT heated. They continue to oxidize (and turn black) until they’re dry. This oxidation uses up some of the flavonoids’ antioxidant power, so black teas have less antioxidant ability than green tea.
NOTE: Adding milk to your tea reduces the antioxidant ability further.
Both green and black teas contain about half of the caffeine in coffee. That translates to about 20-45 mg per cup. If you are a fast caffeine metabolizer, then this can be a beneficial source of antioxidants for you. If you are a slow metabolizer, then the caffeine remains in your body for an extended time causing problems such as high blood pressure. So, it’s important to know your genetics! If you are interested in this kind of testing, contact Bonnie here.
Tea drinking, in general, is associated with good health. Both green and black tea drinkers tend to have higher levels of antioxidants in their blood compared with non-tea drinkers.
- Joint health – Although green tea has higher polyphenol levels, both green and black teas can help ease joint pain in arthritis sufferers. The EGCG in green tea is stronger than vitamins C and E and help to prevent collagen-induced arthritis.
- Heart health – Green and black tea drinkers have lower risks of heart attacks and stroke. Drinking green tea, in particular, is associated with reduced triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL oxidation, all of which are risk factors for heart conditions.
- Cancers – Antioxidant flavonoids reduce the risk of many cancers. Studies show that both green and black teas can reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Also, green tea drinkers have a lowered risk of breast and colorectal cancers. Black tea is being researched for its potential to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.
- Blood sugar – Both green and black teas can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. They also reduce diabetes risk factors, like elevated blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. Some studies have shown that both green and black teas can help reduce blood sugar levels. Other studies have shown that green tea can also improve insulin sensitivity. Just don’t add sweetener!
Both green and black teas are from the same plant but are processed differently. Green tea retains more of the beneficial antioxidants than black tea does, but both are associated with better health than non-tea drinkers.
Overall, tea drinkers, have fewer health conditions than non-tea drinkers. Green tea has a slight edge over black tea when it comes to measurable risk factors of some common diseases. And you can use matcha (green tea powder) too if you like (recipe for a matcha latte here).
When you enjoy your tea, avoid adding milk and/or sweeteners as these reduce some of its health-promoting properties.
Are you a tea drinker? Which tea is your favourite? How do you like to enjoy it? Let me know in the comments below. And try one of my favourite green tea treats here.
Want to know more about whether drinking tea would be beneficial for you? We are all unique and some people react differently to the caffeine in tea than others. And matcha is more concentrated than regular green tea.