Is black tea as healthy as green tea?

tea leaves

tea leavesFor years we have heard about the health benefits of green tea – notably the powerful antioxidants it contains. However, new research is indicating that the more commonly used ‘standard’ black tea may actually have enough health properties of its own to warrant drinking it on a regular basis.

So what’s the verdict? Is black tea as healthy as green tea?

Black tea vs Green tea

There is still some way to go before black tea can be officially recommended for its health benefits as research is still in its early days yet. However, there have already been a number of studies – especially in the US and Europe – which have indicated we may be underestimating its health properties.

Leaves from the Camellia Sinensis plant can be processed in three different ways to create the main types of tea: non-fermented green tea made using fresh leaves, partly-fermented oolong tea, and fermented black tea made from aged leaves and stems. Although both green and black tea are made from the same plant, each has different health properties.

Green tea is higher in polyphenols (including catechins, theaflavins, tannins and flavonoids) which are responsible for many of the health benefits green tea is known for.

One of the catechins most focused on in health studies is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is present in higher levels in green tea as the fermentation process transforms it into other compounds when black tea is produced. However, black tea still possesses polyphenols as it is created using the same plant.

Boston University study

A study conducted at Boston University’s School of Medicine found that there is increasing evidence that drinking black tea can help protect against cardiovascular disease by improving the function of blood vessels.

Netherlands study

A long-term study of 37,514 particpants in the Netherlands over a 13-year period found that consuming 3-6 cups of tea (mainly black tea) per day was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. They also determined tea drinking to be associated with a higher educational level, higher physical activity, a healthier diet, and lower prevalence of smoking, high cholesterol and diabetes. This is due to the flavonoids in black tea helping to reduce the production of LDL/’bad’ cholesterol that can cause heart attacks and strokes.

Norwegian study

A Norwegian study of more than 20,000 adults showed significant correlations between tea consumption and blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which were lower in participants consuming one or more cups of tea per day.

Should I drink black tea or green tea?

Although the above studies have here are a number of studies that have failed to show any link between drinking black tea and cardiovascular health benefits. However, social factors such as other foods and beverages being consumed in addition to the tea may have affected outcomes in the studies showing no link.

Until more research is done we can’t say for sure, however it looks like drinking any kind of tea in moderation will help your health.

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Image /Dilmah

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