The Difference Between Black and Green Tea

Posted on by Tina Beyer

Here’s the thing - all tea comes from the same plant, the tea plant, named Camellia Sinensis.

 I know!  I went half my life not knowing that.   We’re not talking herbals, like peppermint or chamomile but actual tea.


The differences between green and black tea (as well as white, yellow, oolong & dark tea) is a result of processing.  So I want to give you a quick overview.  First there are a couple terms you should know:


Oxidation

A chemical process that takes place when the cell wall is broken and oxygen enters the cell.  It causes it to turn dark.  Example - when you cut an apple or a potato and it turns brown as the air hits it.  (Note:  This is not the same as fermentation.  Some people get the two confused.)


    Fixing

    The process of stopping oxidation using dry heat or steam.  Just like when you bake an apple pie or boil a potato, it stops turning brown.  Heat stops oxidation.

     


      So basically, the level of oxidation determines the tea type.  
      There are six basic types of tea:

      White
      Yellow
      Green

      Leaves are plucked, and dried with as little handling as possible & little to no oxidation.

      Leaves are piled up and turn yellow. Similar to a kiddy pool on the lawn that makes the grass underneath turn yellow.

      Plucked leaves are heated (fixed) before they are rolled and shaped so they remain green with a low oxidation level.

      Oolong
      Black
      Dark
      Oxidized more than green tea but less than black tea.  This group includes everything in between.
      Leaves are crushed & rolled to promote full oxidation.
      The only teas that are fermented with live microbes and will improve with age. Pu’erh is the most common.

       

      So the next question is - How does the nutritional value change for each tea?

      It gets really complicated and chemically technical.  Many factors determine the overall health benefits of each specific tea, including:

      • Condition of the soil
      • Time of year harvested
      • Variety of the plant
      • Altitude
      • Parts of the plant used
      • Weather just before and at harvest time
      • Processing and storage
      • Length of time steeped

      In general, better quality tea is better for you, regardless of the type. Whole leaf, mountain grown, new tender buds and leaves, are of higher quality than low grown, mass produced, cut into shreds and sprinkled  into teabags teas.  I suggest, try them all!  Drink as many different teas as you can.  Don’t rule out a whole category of tea because you tasted one you didn’t like.  

      I assure you, there is perfection to be discovered in each type!     

      It’s time for tea.

       


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