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What Color Is Your Tea?

Dec. 14, 2013|672 views
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Do you drink tea? It’s the second most popular drink in the world, after good old water. So chances are you probably enjoy it, at least occasionally. But if you’re like most Americans, you were probably brought up drinking black tea. Until recently, you may not have been aware of the alternative; green tea. It’s far more popular now, but green tea used to be somewhat exotic here; more likely to be encountered in a Japanese restaurant than in everyday life. That’s changing, though. Green tea is growing in popularity.

So what’s the difference between black and green tea? And why should you care?

Green, black and even white tea all come from one special plant; Camellia Sinensis. It’s a subtropical shrub that’s been cultivated in China and India for thousands of years. The leaves are harvested, dried and brewed to provide the beverage we know as tea. Green tea is made fresh leaves. Black tea undergoes fermentation (or to be more precise, oxidation). White tea is made from immature leaf buds.

White and green tea are essentially the same thing. But black is different. The “fermentation” process eliminates much of an important antioxidant compound, called EGCG. That’s unfortunate, because EGCG has been credited with helping protect the body against cancer, among other illnesses. Green tea also contains a unique amino acid, called theanine. Studies show that theanine promotes calm and relaxation, while enhancing focus and concentration.

Ultimately, if you’re interested in reaping the health benefits of regular tea drinking (and studies suggest the benefits may be substantial) you’re better off switching to green tea. It’s more calming, and it delivers more beneficial EGCG than black tea. Enjoy!


Henning SM, Wang P, Carpenter CL, Heber D.Epigenetic effects of green tea polyphenols in cancer.Epigenomics. 2013 Dec;5(6):729-41. doi: 10.2217/epi.13.57.


Tags:  health tips