Is Black Tea the New Green Tea?

Young Pu-erh Tea
Young Pu-erh Tea

One could make the argument that there are essentially six broad categories of tea: black, green, white, oolong, puerh, and yellow. For the average tea drinker, the last two of these probably don’t turn up on the radar very often, if at all. White and oolong may be a little more familiar, especially with the increased interest in recent years in specialty and gourmet teas.

But until recently it was arguably black tea that was the most popular for the majority of tea drinkers outside of Asia. In the United States green tea was actually the favorite for a long time, but for much of the twentieth century it was black tea — and more specifically iced black tea — that ruled the roost here. Then, about a decade or so ago, green tea made a comeback, largely due to a flurry of studies (and they’re still coming, though not quite as fast) that trumpeted its potential health benefits.

As more of these studies were presented to an adoring public (or at least an adoring media) green tea nearly became a household world, one that was more or less synonymous with a miracle elixir that would banish all of your health woes after the first few sips. Okay, so I’m exaggerating a bit, but some of the claims for green tea have been a bit lofty.

After that we saw the media and tea industry turn its attentions to white tea, and it looked like white tea might even graduate to being the new green tea. But, if we’re to believe a recent article reprinted in the New Zealand press, it’s actually black tea that’s the new green tea (feel free to keep a scorecard at home, if this is getting confusing).

The article claims that researchers have found that “an ordinary cuppa is just as good for you” as green tea. An ordinary cuppa, in this case, refers to the old warhorse, black tea. The article is a bit slim on details but goes on to sketch out how black tea might be just as good for you as green. It also suggests that “buying expensive green tea for its health-boosting properties may be a waste of money.”

Perhaps it is and perhaps it isn’t, but I’d go so far as to suggest that, if you’re buying expensive green tea for your health, you may be missing the point of tea altogether. Try buying some expensive green tea for the taste and you might end up getting better results. If it benefits your health, then consider that a bonus.

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5 thoughts on “Is Black Tea the New Green Tea?

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  4. Hey, sometimes I feel like I am the last queen of black tea and I just love it! Working to acquire a taste for green and others but I think I will always go back to black! Thanks for sharing this information.

  5. Yes, green tea health benefit has a history of 20 years’ research in Japan and China while understandably black tea was neglected. I dined recently in Shizuoka with two eminent tea professors who told me that they were turning their attention towards elucidating the undoubted health benefits of black tea – which contains exactly the same polyphenols as green, except they are oxidised – plus some additional compound due to condensation and polymerization of the oxidised polyphenols. They assured me that 10 years should see the position on black tea matching that on green currently.

    Nigel at Teacraft

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