After water, tea is the highest consumed beverage in the world. It is one of the healthiest drinks available, enriched with the goodness of antioxidants. Tea is an enticing and pleasingly distinct beverage, which comes in a wonderful variety. Green tea, Black tea, White tea and Oolong teas are the basic ones, which originate from the same plant called Camellia Sinensis. This means that no matter which category of tea you consume, you will reap the benefits of the plant. These benefits only vary according to the processing and oxidation of the tea grades.
Let’s take a more in depth look at which teas have the most antioxidants.
Antioxidant Levels in Black tea, Green tea, White Tea & Oolong Tea
Black Tea: One of the most popular varieties of tea in India, Sri Lanka and England, black tea is generally stronger tasting, as opposed to its counterparts. This tea is fully oxidized. Although it is rich in anti-oxidants, as much as the other teas, the process of oxidation converts the catechins into tannins. The tannins are responsible for the dark colour and earthy strong flavour of the tea. Even though black tea is most oxidized, it still has a similar amount of antioxidants as it did before oxidation. Research suggests that drinking three or more cups of black tea a day may decrease the risk of heart attack, and drinking 4-5 cups may promote blood vessel relaxation. The rich supply of anti-oxidants prevents cell damage and removes free radicals from the body.
Green Tea: Everyone’s favourite weight loss and wellness regimen partner – green tea, comes in many shapes. Sometimes flat, sometimes curled or needle like, green tea is made from more mature leaves that are not fermented or oxidized. It is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that are amazing for the human body. Most of the flavonoids in green tea are catechins, and one in particular is believed to be responsible for most of the health benefits in green tea. Green tea also contains a lot of polyphenols and has a lower caffeine content than black tea. The polyphenols help sooth inflammation while also help in prevention of cancer. EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate) is one of the most powerful compounds in green tea which has been studied to treat various diseases. It may be one of the main reasons as to why green tea has such powerful medicinal properties. Another plus point is that since it is low on caffeine, it refreshes the drinker without making them jittery.
White Tea: One of the most delicate varieties of tea, white tea is very similar to green tea because it is made in the same way. The variance is that only the buds and young leaves of the plant are used. White tea is dried in natural sunlight, which results in higher levels of catechins but lower levels of tannins. The minor processing and minimal oxidation produces some of the most delicate and freshest varieties of white tea. The antioxidants work on protecting the various organs of the body, and also eliminate free radicals that can potentially damage blood cells, DNA and collagen. It is possible that white tea contains the highest levels of flavonoids, due to the minimal oxidation. This means that its cardiovascular benefits are higher than both black and green teas.
Oolong Tea: Oolong tea is a semi-oxidized tea variety that only goes through a short period of fermentation. The caffeine content and antioxidant level is also mid–way between that of green and black teas, making them most healthy and palatable. However, oolong tea is one of the expensive varieties of tea, due to the strenuous labor that goes underway to process this tea. Not only are there anti-oxidants in this tea, but it is also rich in various other nutrients like fluoride, magnesium, potassium and sodium. The anti-oxidants in oolong tea can aid in weight loss, while riding the body off free radicals. It boosts your metabolism and immune system. Not just that, but the high level of anti-oxidants prevents hair loss, making your hair thicker and shinier. Oolong teas are said to have more polyphenols and a similar caffeine content to green and black teas, although slightly less.
So, Which Tea is Better?
There really is no “better” tea with the most antioxidants. There are different types and amounts of antioxidants in different teas. However, their effects on the body are largely the same. No matter which type of tea you drink, you’re getting antioxidants like catechins and polyphenols in your system. White tea reduces the risk of cancer, while green tea improves the skin and hair. Black tea enhances the immune system and promote good cardiovascular health, whereas oolong tea refreshes the body and mind. Nevertheless, your preference of tea will always be largely based on the amount of caffeine you want in your system and the specific perks that come with every variety.