Is Green Tea Better Than Normal Tea?

Reviewed on 12/7/2021

Both black tea and green tea have similar benefits. Green tea contains less caffeine than green tea, so it may be a better choice if you're sensitive to caffeine.
Both black tea and green tea have similar benefits. Green tea contains less caffeine than green tea, so it may be a better choice if you’re sensitive to caffeine.

Tea is one of the oldest and most widely consumed beverages in the world. Drinking tea has benefits for your health, but is green tea better for you than normal tea?

What’s the difference between green and black tea?

Green, black, and oolong tea are made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. They’re just processed differently. To make green tea, the tea leaves are steamed, dried, withered, or pan-fired. This stops the leaves from fermenting naturally.

To make black tea, the tea leaves are first exposed to air. This causes them to oxidize and turn dark brown in color. This makes the flavor more intense. The tea leaves can then be heated, dried and crushed, or left as is.

Tea and antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds that protect your cells from damage by free radicals. Free radicals have been linked to different medical conditions like cancer.

Because the tea leaves aren’t oxidized, green tea contains higher levels of organic compounds called polyphenols compared to black tea. Polyphenols such as catechins and phenolic acids have antioxidant properties.

Researchers report that these natural compounds may have potential benefits like preventing and treating disorders that affect your brain and nervous system. Green tea’s epigallocatechin gallate may also have some protective effects against swelling of your brain (brain edema) and damage to your brain’s neurons.

Additionally, early studies  have found that epigallocatechin gallate may be linked to various health benefits, like causing the death of cancer cells. These are early studies, though, and more research is needed.

The polyphenol theaflavin can be found in black and oolong teas, but not in green tea. Lab studies have found that theaflavins in black and oolong tea have similar antioxidant potency as catechins in green tea.

While studies on antioxidant properties of different teas have largely been lab- and animal-based, they suggest that both green tea and black tea may have antioxidant benefits for people. 

Tea and heart health

As you age, your levels of high-density lipoprotein or “good” cholesterol naturally decrease. A study of more than 80,000 people over a 6-year period, though, found that tea drinkers had a slower decrease in high-density lipoprotein. Researchers say this is linked to a 8% drop in heart disease risk. Green tea had a slightly higher effect than black tea.

Tea and diabetes

Studies on tea and diabetes have been mixed. For example, a study in Singapore found that drinking more than one cup of black tea a day can reduce your risk of diabetes, but a study in Japan found that there was no significant effect for oolong and black tea. Instead, only those who drank green tea had lower risk for diabetes.

Researchers say that the variation in the results may be due to differences in dosage of tea and the way tea is made in different regions. 

Stronger doses of green tea may have more effect on improving your blood sugar levels. A study in Japan found that those who drank a 3% concentration of green tea had lower average blood sugar levels than those who drank a 1% concentration of green tea.

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Tea and caffeine

Green tea has less caffeine than black tea. One cup of black tea has about 48 milligrams of caffeine, while an equal amount of green tea has 29 milligrams. Oolong tea has about 38 milligrams. This is a lot less than coffee, which has about 95 milligrams of caffeine.

Caffeine improves your attention, reaction time, and alertness when taken in low and moderate amounts. Caffeine has also been found to improve your physical ability, such as high-intensity sprints, endurance, and muscle strength.

Tea, meanwhile, contains l-theanine, an amino acid that’s not found in coffee. Combining l-theanine with caffeine may have benefits for your attention and task performance.

A small study found that participants who took both l-theanine and caffeine had better attention than those who took just l-theanine or caffeine alone. In another study, people who took both l-theanine and caffeine were less distracted during a memory task and had better speed and accuracy when having to switch between different tasks.

Green tea vs black tea

Both black tea and green tea have similar benefits. More studies need to be carried out to learn more about how they affect various medical conditions like diabetes.

Green tea contains less caffeine than green tea, so it may be a better choice if you’re sensitive to caffeine.

Taking green tea extract in pill form has been linked to liver problems. If you have liver disease, talk to your doctor before you try any products with green tea extract.

Green tea extract is also an ingredient in many over-the-counter dieting products, but experts say that green tea extracts haven’t been found to help you lose weight or maintain weight loss.

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References

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: “The Health Benefits of Tea.”

Antioxidants: ‘Effects and Mechanisms of Tea for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes Mellitus and Diabetic Complications: An Updated Review.”

Current Pharmaceutical Design: “Tea and Health: Studies in Humans.”

European Food Research and Technology: “Comparison of antioxidant capacities of different types of tea using the spectroscopy methods and semi-empirical mathematical model.”

Infectious Agents and Cancer: “The efficacy of Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (green tea) in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease: an overview of pre-clinical studies and translational perspectives in clinical practice.”

Journal of the American Heart Association: “Tea Consumption and Longitudinal Change in High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Concentration in Chinese Adults.”

Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition: “The Association between Concentrations of Green Tea and Blood Glucose Levels.”

The Journal of Nutrition: “L-Theanine and Caffeine in Combination Affect Human Cognition as Evidenced by Oscillatory alpha-Band Activity and Attention Task Performance,” “Theaflavins in Black Tea and Catechins in Green Tea Are Equally Effective Antioxidants.

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Green tea.”

Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews: “A review of caffeine’s effects on cognitive, physical and occupational performance.”

Nutrients: “Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) Is the Most Effective Cancer Chemopreventive Polyphenol in Green Tea.”

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