Black Tea vs. Green Tea

Black Tea vs. Green Tea

Black tea and green tea are two of the most popular types of tea in the world and the foundation for countless other favorite tea blends and combinations. Besides the obvious difference in hue, what’s really the difference between black tea and green tea?

All types of true teas are made from the Camellia sinensis plant but they differ in the type of tea that they produce due to the way the leaves are processed and the amount of oxidation they receive. While green tea and black tea share many similarities, there are several key differences that set green and black tea apart. Learn about the differences between black tea and green tea, from the health benefits and caffeine content of each to the differences in flavor and how to brew.

Sips by is a personalized tea discovery subscription. Each month, we match tea drinkers across the U.S. with delicious teas from over 150 global tea brands that we’re sure they’ll love. Members receive 4 teas chosen just for them in every box. Learn more here.

SHOP BEST BLACK TEAS

Discover the best black teas as rated by Sips by's 600,000 tea-loving Members. From loose leaf black tea to bagged black tea, flavored black tea to unflavored black tea, these are the best black teas from different tea brands around the world. Find your favorite black tea, from earl grey or English breakfast to chai, Darjeeling and Assam, with the caffeine you need to jump start your day. No matter the type of black tea you're searching for, Sips by has options you'll love, whether you drink your black tea with lemon or with milk.

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BENEFITS OF BLACK TEA VS. GREEN TEA

Many believe that green tea is healthier than black tea, but both types of tea boast of several health benefits. Some of these benefits overlap while others are unique to each type of tea, leaving the real question - which tea is healthiest?

BENEFITS OF BOTH

Green tea and black tea both contain powerful antioxidants called flavonoids, a type of polyphenols. Research shows that these antioxidants help protect your heart, reduce blood pressure, and lower bad cholesterol. Due to the caffeine content naturally present in black tea and green tea, both teas are also effective at blocking adenosine receptors . By blocking adenosine, your brain feels more awake and cognitive function increases. You’ll get a boost of clarity, focus, increased memory and concentration. In conjunction with this caffeine stimulant, both green tea and black tea contain natural levels of the amino acid L-theanine which reduces stress by having a calming effect on the body. However, it’s important to realize that this cognitive and mood boost is temporary and does not replace the restorative function of a good night’s sleep.

BLACK TEA

Is drinking black tea good for you? Yes, black tea contains a plethora of health benefits that make drinking black tea in moderation good for you. Black tea exclusively contains antioxidants called theaflavins due to the longer oxidation process of the leaves. Theaflavins are a subsection of flavonoids that have shown to reduce damage from free radicals, protect your heart, reduce plaque build-up around blood vessels, and help lower cholesterol. However, black tea does have more caffeine than any other type of tea and the least amount of L-theanine which means that drinking more than 1-3 cups of black tea a day can lead to excessive caffeine consumption, causing side effects such as anxiety and nausea.

GREEN TEA

Is green tea better for you than black tea? The bottom line is yes - green tea is healthier than black tea. Green tea contains higher levels of natural antioxidants in the form of EGCG. EGCG is a group of polyphenols that help limit free radical damage to the cells in your body, reduce inflammation, and protect against heart disease. Catechins in green tea also benefit oral health by potentially reducing plaque build-up, bacteria, and bad breath. Some studies also show that green tea can boost your metabolism and increase the rate of fat oxidation more than black tea. Green tea is the healthiest tea because of the higher levels of these powerful antioxidants combined with the smaller doses of caffeine.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GREEN TEA AND BLACK TEA

Even though green tea and black tea come from the same plant, the Camellia sinensis, the leaves are processed differently to create the two opposing brews.

Both black tea and green tea can be harvested from the two main varieties of the plant, Camellia sinensis var. sinensis and Camellia sinensis var. assamica. The Camellia sinensis var. sinensis is grown in cooler mountainous regions in China and is most commonly used for processing green tea as the leaves tend to be sweeter and softer. The Camellia sinensis var. assamica is grown in warmer climates in India and is usually best for creating strong, malty black teas.

WHAT IS OXIDATION?

Oxidation takes place when the cell wall structures of the tea leaf are broken and enzymes are released to begin an oxidation process – a naturally occurring chemical reaction. We see this natural process occur in our daily lives whenever an apple or avocado is left out too long and begins to turn brown.

Depending on what kind of tea is being made, the oxidation of the tea leaves must be initiated or stopped. Oxidation can be initiated by cutting, tearing, rolling, crushing, or tumbling the tea leaves. Each strategy will expose the leaves to oxygen to begin oxidation but can alter the flavor, aroma, and color of the resulting tea. To halt the oxidation process, heat must be applied to the leaves to stop oxidation by deactivating the enzymes.

GREEN TEA

The most important step in making sure the tea leaves meant to be green tea don’t become black tea is heat. The Camellia sinensis leaves that will become green tea are steamed or pan-fired before they start to oxidize, whereas black tea leaves are allowed to oxidize before heat is applied, creating a depth of color and flavor. Heating the leaves halts oxidation and allow the leaves to retain their characteristic greenness, which also leads to the production of a fresh, pure tasting tea.

Green tea originated in China around 5,000 years ago and was brought back to Japan by a traveling monk who found the tea’s medicinal properties helped him stay alert and clear of mind during meditation. Green tea continues to be produced in both places where the Camellia sinensis plant is grown and harvested, but Chinese green tea is distinguished by the pan-firing process while the steaming process is signature to Japan. After heating, the traditional method of processing green tea may involve withering, heating, shaping and drying the leaves.

BLACK TEA

Black tea refers to tea that generally has a dark liquor, bold taste, and high tannin content due to complete oxidation of the tea leaves before they are heat-processed and dried. Black tea is the most widely consumed tea in the West. In China, this type of tea is referred to as hong cha or “red tea” due to the reddish color when it’s brewed.

In the 1800s, the British discovered they could grow tea in Assam and Darjeeling in India, and that the native Camellia sinensis var. assamica tea plant variety was much better suited to produce the hearty, bold black teas that were in high demand. As its popularity spread throughout the world, tea was processed for export to neighboring countries and eventually across oceans. It was discovered that the more oxidized black tea would retain its freshness and flavor better over long journeys, unlike perishable green tea.

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lady grey tea
types of black tea

CAFFEINE IN BLACK TEA VS. GREEN TEA

The Camellia sinensis plant produces noticeable levels of naturally occurring caffeine that provides the sipper with a boost of calm wakefulness. Both black tea and green tea contain some level of caffeine, but keep in mind the exact amount in each cup will vary due to the plant variety and region it was grown, processing style and brewing method.

On a groggy morning or sleepy afternoon slump, which tea should you reach for to get a better boost - green tea or black tea?

BLACK TEA

Black tea beats green tea when it comes to giving you the best caffeine boost. Black tea has a higher caffeine content than green tea because the tea leaves are oxidized the most, the leaves are steeped for longer, and brewed at a higher water temperature. A typical cup of black tea contains around 47 milligrams of caffeine, but these levels can range from 15-70 milligrams.

Of course, a cup of coffee is still the reigning champion when it comes to the drink with the most caffeine. Coffee generally contains about twice as much caffeine as black tea. However, tea is proven to be the best stimulant for a gentle and lasting boost of energy due to the synergy between the caffeine and levels of natural L-theanine. These natural properties in tea create a unique balance that highlight the best benefits of caffeine while reducing the negative side effects. Goodbye, jittery caffeine crashes!

GREEN TEA

A common misconception is that green tea is naturally caffeine-free. While green tea does contain lower levels of caffeine than most other teas (not including rooibos or herbal infusions), it is still an effective pick-me-up. While black tea contains half as much caffeine compared to coffee, a cup of green tea normally contains half as much caffeine as black tea. A typical cup of green tea will contain 28 milligrams of caffeine, but these levels can range from 20-45 milligrams of caffeine.

Green teas grown in the shade like matcha and gyokuro may even contain higher levels of caffeine due to the restriction from sunlight, but their levels of L-theanine are simultaneous higher which may reduce the effect of caffeine in our systems, leading to relaxation and reduced stress.

FLAVOR OF BLACK TEA VS. GREEN TEA

BLACK TEA

Black tea is one of the most versatile types of tea in the world. Out of all the tea types, black tea leaves are the most heavily oxidized during processing which creates high levels of tannins and caffeine. Oxidation alters the flavor profile of a tea, so because of the way black teas are processed they typically taste brisk and uplifting.

The flavors of black tea can range from robust, malty, and strong, to soft, slightly sweet, and complex. Black teas grown and processed in different regions are also marked by having different characters. Chinese black teas will taste full-bodied with a soft finish, while an Indian black tea will tend to be more robust. Because black teas are strong and robust, they make a fantastic base for adding flavors like floral or citrus to create blends like Earl Grey, or adding spices to create sweet and spicy chai.

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GREEN TEA

Green tea is characterized by a light, fresh, and pure taste. Its liquor steeps from a bright yellow or green to a light brown, and the notes range from being a delicate nutty, grassy, vegetal, toasty, or oceanic flavor. Similar to black teas, where the Camellia sinensis leaves are grown and processed determines what they will taste like. Japanese green teas are usually a dark green and have a savory flavor, while the mellow flavors come from Chinese green teas. The complexity of green tea also makes it a good base for blends and added flavors, like the floral Jasmine Green or fresh Moroccan Mint.

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HOW TO BREW BLACK TEA

When brewing a cup of black tea, make sure to check your package first for instructions specific to your tea because different varieties might have different ideal brewing temperatures and steeping times. However, here are a few general steeping tips to keep in mind that will help you brew a delicious cup of black tea every time!

HOW TO BREW BLACK TEA

WHAT YOU'LL NEED

  • Kettle or pot to heat water
  • Black loose tea leaves, sachets, or bags
  • Teapot with filter, teacup, or your favorite mug with an infuser

STEP ONE: HEAT THE WATER

  • 212℉ // Boil

Pro Tip: Use freshly drawn cold filtered water for the best tasting cup!

STEP TWO: MEASURE THE TEA

  • Generally use 1 rounded tsp or 1 tea bag/sachet per 8 oz. (1 cup) of water

Pro Tip: Add tea leaves to an infuser that lets them open fully, or you can put them straight into the teapot and use a strainer when you're pouring a cup!

STEP THREE: STEEP THE TEA

  • 3-5 minutes

Pro Tip: Don't let your tea steep for too long! It's best to strain your leaves or take your sachet/teabag out when the time's up so you aren't left with a bitter cup. Taste your tea after the recommended steeping time and then decide if you’d like it to steep a little longer.

Pro Tip: Cover your tea while it steeps to keep all the heat and aroma in the steeping vessel, allowing the leaves to relax and unfurl.

STEP FOUR: ENJOY!

When steeped, the color of black tea usually ranges from a reddish, amber-colored shade to a dark black liquor. Black tea can be enjoyed plain or with lemon, but it's also delicious and creamy when served with milk, a teaspoon of honey, or a bit of sweetener.



HOW TO BREW GREEN TEA

Green tea is one of most difficult tea types to brew correctly. Certain types require very low temperatures and steep times – or else they will go bitter and will not be pleasant to drink. It’s best to look on the tea package for brewing instructions specific to your green tea type, but here are a few general guidelines to help you brew a delicious cup!

HOW TO BREW GREEN TEA

WHAT YOU'LL NEED

  • Kettle or pot to heat water
  • Green tea leaves, sachets, or bags
  • Teapot with filter, teacup, or your favorite mug with an infuser

STEP ONE: HEAT THE WATER

  • 140℉-180℉ // Below boiling

The exact temperature depends on the specific type of green tea (Japanese and first flush teas are generally 160-170 and Chinese teas are generally 170-180. Gyokuro, a high-grade spring-picked Japanese tea, is brewed at the lowest temperatures of around 140F)

Pro Tip: If you don’t have a way of setting the temperature on your method of boiling water, bring the water to a soft boil (tiny bubbles) and then allow it to cool down or transfer into another pitcher before pouring into your tea. Never use boiling water for green tea!

STEP TWO: MEASURE THE TEA

  • About 2 grams per 8 oz. (1 cup) of water

Pro Tip: Add tea leaves to an infuser that lets them open fully, or you can put them straight into the teapot and use a strainer when you're pouring a cup.

STEP THREE: STEEP THE TEA

  • 30-60 seconds for delicate, spring harvest teas; 1-3 minutes for regular harvest, more robust teas (when in doubt, taste the tea every 30 sec to decide when it’s ready). High quality green teas may be steeped multiple times.

Pro Tip: Don't let your tea steep for too long! It's best to take the leaves/sachet/bag out when the time's up so you aren't left with a bitter cup. Taste your tea after the recommended steeping time and then decide if you’d like it to steep a little longer.

Pro Tip: Cover your tea while it steeps to keep all the heat and aroma in the steeping vessel.

STEP FOUR: ENJOY :)

When steeped, green tea is usually a shade of green, yellow or light brown in color. The flavor of green tea is light and delicate, so milk is not traditionally added but a squeeze of lemon, sweetener, or drop of honey can bring out the complex flavors of your green tea!

Note: Cold brewing is another way to bring out the sweeter flavors of green tea and avoid bitterness from over-steeping. Or, if you accidentally oversteep hot green tea, just turn it into iced tea to mellow out the flavor!

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

SHOP BEST GREEN TEAS

Discover the best green teas as rated by Sips by's 600,000 tea-loving Members. From loose leaf green tea to bagged green tea, flavored green tea to unflavored green tea, these are the best green teas from different tea brands around the world. Find your favorite green tea, from matcha to sencha and from pure to flavored, with the caffeine you need to jump start your day. No matter the type of green tea you're searching for, Sips by has options you'll love, whether you love the health benefits of green tea or just love the taste. Discover your new favorite green tea.

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SHOP BEST GREEN TEAS


Interested in trying these teas and others? Subscribers receive 4 teas chosen just for them in every box. Learn more here.

About Sips by: We’re a female-founded and led startup that makes discovering tea fun, personalized, and affordable. The Sips by Box is the only multi-brand, personalized tea subscription box. Each month, we match tea drinkers across the U.S. with delicious teas from over 150 global tea brands that we’re sure they’ll love. Based out of Austin, Texas, we are adept at savoring a hot mug even when it’s seasonally inappropriate.


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