black tea? green tea?

A recent study in the news (yesterday, I think) says that black tea and green tea have something in them that is good for you or will prevent some awfull thing happening to you. I have never seen any kind of tea except green-colored stuff. What are they talking about? And is Lipton–you know, the cheap stuff you see everywhere–one of the green teas that will cure all your ills or whatever? Why don’t they just say, “Amazing health benefits from everyday, regular tea!” Or is it something else?

From the FAQ:

The Upton Tea website has a lot of information online about tea and how it’s manufactured. It says the following about green and black tea:

Differences in processing account for much of the differences in the taste and chemical properties of green or black teas (and orthodox and CTC teas). So I suppose it’s not unreasonable to think that one or the other might be “healthier” due to these differences.

On the other hand, the Upton Tea site also says that

So I suppose the source of the tea leaves may also make one tea “healthier” than another.

Your typical cheap bagged tea (e.g. Lipton “Orange Pekoe and Pekoe Cut”) is black tea. However, Lipton and many other manufacturers have been making some inexpensive green teas in response to the recent demand for green tea due to its much-touted health benefits. Green tea is usually labeled “Green Tea”. If it just says “Tea,” it’s probably black.

In general, green teas have less caffeine because caffeine is created during the fermentation process. They also have a lighter flavor than black tea.

Herbal “teas”, on the other hand, are made from other plants, and don’t contain the leaves of the tea plant.

I’m not sure it’s correct to say that fermentation creates the caffeine, but I admit that the information I’ve found on this subject is pretty confusing.

The Upton Tea site says:

On the other hand, this page flatly contradicts the above and states that:

And finally, this site says that

So I guess the relationship between a tea’s level of fermentation and the caffeine buzz you get when you drink it isn’t well understood.

 There are some people who just don't understand that "tea" is a specific plant whose leaves are boiled to make tea.

A: “Would you like some tea?”
B: “Oh, yes, that would be very nice.”
A: “Well, what kind would you like? I’ve got …” (names several “herbal teas.”
B: “Umm … do you have any actual tea?”
A: “What do you mean? These are all tea.”


 These are the same kind of people who say "chai tea." "Chai" _is_ "tea," goddammit!

Agreed, chukhung, on the variability of caffeine in various tea varieties. Measured caffeine levels also vary according to how you infuse the tea (temp of the water, steeping time, etc.) My personal empirical experience is that the green teas provide seem lower in stimulants than most blacks. YMMV.

Another amusing but not terribly rigorous note on caffeine and tea: Tea contains theobromines, the same caffeine-like chemicals found in chocolate. (Theobromine comes from Theobroma, aptly, “food of the gods”, the scientific name given by Carolus Linnaeus, bless his soul, to the cocoa tree.) Theobromines are mild stimulants, themselves, and are said to inhibit the uptake of caffeine by the body, giving tea drinkers a mellower and longer-lasting high than consumers of baser beverages like cola or coffee.

And, acsenray, mong tea snobs, “herbal teas” are known as “tisanes.”

Tea snob :wink:

You, Sir or Madam, are a person of refined tastes and superior intellect. My only regret is that I can’t share with you a pot of my 2002 first-flush Darjeeling that just arrived in the mail today.

It was first reported that green tea had certain phytochemicals that were healthful. So there was a rush for green tea. The large companies started to produce it, of course. They always jump on the bandwagon when the health nuts find something good. However, recent literature indicates that both green tea and black tea are equally beneficial. This is one of many sources I’ve read indicating that all tea is good for you, except for the herbal teas, which don’t contain the phytochemicals. Other sources were more specific and named the specific phytochemicals, but I can’t find them right now.

Thank you Podkayne and barbitu8 for answer to my questions, and thanks to others for offering more than I ever wanted to know about tea!

As I understand it (having discussed this with a teahead who gave me Kazuo Okakura’s The Book of Tea), green tea’s taste isn’t as mellow as black tea. You can’t make green tea as strong as you would black tea, because it would taste too harsh, so you make it less strong. That would the main reason for its delivering less caffeine.

Hmm. I have also seen “white tea” on a menu - what is that?

(It wasn’t meaning with milk, incidentally, it was a type along with green and black, and it was Chinese).

“white tea” is warm water I believe.

No - it was definitely some sort of specialist tea category. It was one of those tea-snob cafes where they have a menu with 50 different teas, with the prices of a pot of each varying on the perceived-exquisiteness of the tea. The white tea was among the pricier. I seem to remember I had it, but it wasn’t white, it was brown. I’ll try a Yahoo! search…

… ah yeah here we go:

Jomo Mojo, it is true that green tea must not be brewed with boiling water, or it gives a very bitter taste–from the tannins, I guess. It should be brewed with water between 160 and 180[sup]o[/sup] F.

White tea is wonderful, also . . . but subtle. To my husband (I love him dearly, but he has the palate of a peasant) it is indeed nothing more than warm water. White tea is hardly fermented at all. I will salve my envy over chukhung’s Darjeeling (Ah, the Champagne of teas!) with a pot of White Needles. :slight_smile: My Darjeeling connection hooks me up whenever he goes to India. I’m running low . . . I’d better start giving him guilt about how he never calls his mother.

The phytochemicals in tea do not refer to theophylline, theobromine, or caffeine, but to certain antioxidants which are present in the tea tree. All tea leaves from the tea genus contains these antioxidants, no matter how it is processed. Teas not made from the tea plant, such as herbal teas, do not contain these beneficial antioxidants.


Are there any studies that look for differences in antioxidant levels of teas made from leaves from China bushes (Camellia sinensis sinensis) as opposed to teas made from Assam bushes (Camellia sinensis assamica)?

If, as suggested elsewhere in this thread, the two types of tea bushes produce different levels of caffeine, it seems possible that they might produce different levels of antioxidants as well.

It seems that all varieties of camellia sinensis have the same or similar chemicals.