Which Teas Have the Most Antioxidants?

July 5, 2016

Tea is one of the healthiest drinks available, which is wonderful news for tea lovers. White, green, black and oolong teas all come from the same plant called camellia senesis. This means that you get very similar benefits regardless of the type of tea you drink. The differences come from the way the teas are processed and oxidized.

Let’s take a more in depth look at which teas have the most antioxidants.

Antioxidant Levels in Black, Green, White & Oolong Teas

Black Tea

Black tea is fully oxidized. During the process of oxidation, flavonoids called catechins are converted into tannins. The tannins are responsible for giving the tea its dark color.

Even though black tea is more oxidized than other varieties, it still has a similar amount of antioxidants as it did before it was oxidized. Research suggests that drinking three or more cups a day may decrease the risk of heart attack, and drinking 4-5 cups may promote blood vessel relaxation.

Green Tea

Green tea is made from more mature leaves that are not fermented or oxidized. 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.

White Tea

White tea is very similar to green tea because it is made in the same way. The difference is that only the buds and young leaves of the plant are used. They are then dried in natural sunlight, which results in higher catechin levels but lower tannins levels. It’s believed that white tea has similar cardiovascular benefits as both black and green teas.

Oolong Tea

Oolong tea only goes through a short period of fermentation. These teas are said to have more polyphenols and a similar caffeine content to green and black teas, although slightly less.

Which Tea is the Best?

There really is no “best” tea with the most antioxidants. There are different types and amounts of antioxidants in the various teas, but their effects on the body are largely the same. No matter which type of tea you drink, you’re getting antioxidants like catechins and tannins that reduce the risk of cancer, improve the skin, enhance the immune system and promote good cardiovascular health. What you may want to consider instead is how much caffeine you want from the tea and your own personal taste preferences.