Tea Antioxidants Debate
Green Tea Vs. Black Tea

Which tea antioxidants are better for you - green tea or black tea? The answer is surprisingly simple, but many experts still don't get it.

Green tea and black tea both come from the same plant: Camellia sinensis. What's the difference between them? Green tea clearly has more of a healthy image, but why is that?

Is green tea really better than black tea? Scientists have been trying to answer this question for years.

Green tea and black tea are processed differently: green tea is dried over a gentle heat, packaged and sold. Black tea is allowed to oxidize.

During the oxidation process, the phytochemicals in the tea change form. Catechins are replaced by theaflavins and thearubigins. However, the phytochemicals in black tea are still good for you and still beneficial.

For example, theaflavin-3,3'-digallate has antioxidant activity that is comparable to that of EGCG.

In a 2001 study led by JB Paquay , black tea even did a better job of defending against particular free radicals than green tea. Another study, this one led by Sarkar, found that green tea and black tea had equally powerful protective effects against nitric oxide toxicity.

Does that mean that green tea and black tea are equally good for you?

If that is the case, why does epidemiological evidence from Asia seem to show that people who drink green tea get more health benefits than people who drink black tea?

The Answer: Quantity, Not Quality

Green tea and black tea both contain powerful antioxidant compounds.

However, researchers from the Department of Food Science and Technology School of Agricultural Biotechnology at Seoul National University found that green tea contains more tea antioxidants than black tea does.

Black tea has a relatively small percentage of the powerful antioxidants called theaflavins, only about 2 to 6%.

Green tea, on the other hand, contains 30 to 42% of the powerful antioxidants called catechins.

Thus, the researchers found that black tea contained phenols equivalent to 125 mg of gallic acid, while green tea contained phenols at a level equivalent to 165 mg gallic acid.

Also, the researchers found that a serving of green tea had the antioxidative capacity of 436 mg of Vitamin C. A serving of black tea, on the other hand, was only equivalent to 239 mg of Vitamin C.

So, which is better - green tea or black tea? Both are good for your health, but green tea is better because it has more tea antioxidants!

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Paquay JB, et al (2001) Protection against nitric oxide toxicity by tea. J Agric Food Chem 48(11): 5768-5772

Sarkar A, et al (2001) Black tea is a powerful chemopreventor of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species: comparison with its individual catechin constituents in green tea. Biochem. Biophyss. Res. Commun 284 (1): 173-178

Ki Won Lee and Hyong Joo Lee (2002). Antioxidant Activity of Black Tea vs. Green Tea. The American Society for Nutritional Sciences J. Nutr. 132:785, 2002

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