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The Secret Difference Between Black and Green Tea

Avantika Jalan about tea black tea green tea

Did you know that black and green tea both come from the SAME plant?

Yes, that’s right! We pluck the leaves used for making both black and green teas from the same plant, camellia sinensis. YET each beverage differs in taste, character, colour and health benefits. Here’s just a few of the ways black and green tea differ.

Properties Black Tea Green Tea
Post manufacture leaf colour Dark brown / black Green
Infusion colour Dark reddish-orange Light green / Lemon-green
Taste (plain liquor) Malty, slightly astringent Vegetal, light fruity, with sweet after taste
Brewing Temperatures Needs boiling water with steep time 3-4 minutes for full display of charecteristics Boiling water ruins the tea, needs 80-90 *C
Caffeine  High caffeine
Low caffeine
Antioxidants Some antioxidants present High levels of antioxidants present
Most common Brewing Recipes Plain black, with sugar/honey, also made into chai / lattes with milk. Mostly plain. Green tea powder can be used for lattes / baking. Mint / Honey / Lemongrass also used with green tea.

Seeing as these drinks come from the same raw material, tea leaf, these differences are quite surprising. So what is the secret behind these differences?

Manufacture. While we pluck the leaves the same, how we process the leaves afterwards differs vastly.

  1. To make black tea, we make the fresh tea leaves wither for 8-12 hours. This causes the leaves to loose 30-40% of their moisture, and the chemicals in the leaf cell walls to breakdown. Theanine, one of the active compounds that makes tea a stimulant is activated by the chemical breakdown and oxidation that occurs during the manufacturing process

    On the other hand, we do not wither leaves when making green tea. Once plucked, we process the leaves immediately. This ensures minimal damage to the leaf, reducing the breakdown of the chemical compounds, resulting in ‘lighter’ teas with lower caffeine.
  1. During the black tea manufacture process, we roll the withered leaf in order to increase the release and oxidation of Theanine. We then ferment the rolled tea leaves for 20-30 minutes, before drying. Drying stops the fermentation.

    For the green tea, there is NO fermentation. We arrest the fermentation by steaming the leaves immediately upon arrival at the factory. We then slowly dry the leaves. Drying the green tea at low heat is the most important part of the manufacture. This is also why green tea is considered healthier as it has more antioxidants that remain intact in the leaf due to steaming, and slow drying.

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