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Which Tea is the Healthiest?

One of Our Most Popular Questions!

Which Tea is the Healthiest?

Many of our customers are drawn to tea for its potential health benefits, and many want to know which tea will give them the most bang for their buck. "Which tea is the healthiest?" is a question we’re often asked. Unfortunately,  as with our response to the question "Which tea has the least/most caffeine?", the answer is complicated.  

When talking about health benefits, we must differentiate between teas made from the camellia sinensis plant and those made from other botanicals.  With the popularity of herbal infusions (such as chamomile, peppermint, rooibos, etc.) in today’s marketplace, a whole gamut of brews have come to be referred to as “tea.” Technically, however, only beverages derived from the camellia sinensis plant should be called tea.

There are five main types of tea: black, green, oolong, white, and pu-erh.  Each type is made from the same leaf of the same plant.  Differences do occur in varietals, but ultimately all tea starts out with the same components and, thus, potential health benefits. This is good news: It means that all tea, regardless of the type (black, green, oolong, white and pu-erh), may contribute positively to a healthy lifestyle!

Some research has shown that the manufacturing process affects the level of antioxidants in the final dry tea leaf.  According to the study "Beneficial Effects of Green Tea - A Review" in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, when dry tea leaves are compared, unoxidized green tea retains more antioxidants than black, oolong, or pu-erh.*  In this study, the catechin (or antioxidant) that is more abundant in green tea than in the black, oolong and pu-erh is EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate). So if you are searching for a tea with a potentially higher antioxidant count, based on this research, we recommend choosing a green tea. To our knowledge, there is no peer-reviewed literature that compares the EGCG levels of different green teas, so we can’t point to any one of them and say, "This tea has the highest EGCG count." There are also many other factors that can affect the final antioxidant count in your cup: varietal, age of leaf, growing location, method of manufacture, production techniques, and steeping time.

Whisking Matcha TeaOur bottom-line advice is to choose a tea that you enjoy drinking and rest easy.

Tip: Matcha green tea drinkers may ingest a higher level of antioxidants! Matcha green tea is consumed by whisking the entire tea leaf (in powder form) in water and drinking. Unlike most tea, in which the tea leaf is steeped and removed before consuming the beverage, matcha drinkers consume ALL of the components in the leaf rather than only those extracted from the tea leaf into the brew.

*Source: "Beneficial Effects of Green Tea - A Review" Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol 25, No 2 (2006)