Most of us have heard of green tea, black tea, and maybe even yellow tea, but what makes green tea and black tea so different? Are they different kinds of leaves, or different plants entirely?
What makes teas different?
Most tea drinkers may not realize that both green tea and black tea come from the same plant, the Camellia sinensis. In fact, most tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, with the exception of herbal and floral teas. What makes each type of tea so unique in color, flavor, and fragrance are:
- Time of season harvested
- Part of the plant being harvested
- Processing Method
Black tea leaves are allowed to wither after being harvested. The process of withering the leaves initiates the oxidation process. As a result of oxidation, the leaves turn black. Finally, the oxidized leaves are fired in ovens to stop the oxidation process at the desired level.
Green tea leaves can be plucked and ready to be brewed in the same night. The bypass of oxidation allows green tea to retain most of its natural dark green color, tannins, vitamin C, chlorophyll and minerals. As a result, green tea is more caustic and subtler in flavor than black tea.
The lack of oxidation in green tea is also responsible for the very low bio-availability of its caffeine content. Its caffeine effect produces a nearly steady, mild high with no big peaks or plunges. Green tea is, therefore, the perfect meditative aid: it acts as a mild stimulant, without causing insomnia or nervousness.
In conclusion, the greatest difference between green tea and black tea is in the preparation and processing of the Camellia sinensis leaves. Simply, black tea is oxidized, and green tea is not oxidized. The difference in preparation and processing results in a dramatically different flavor and also affects the bio-availability of its caffeine content.