Processing green tea differs from the way black tea is processed. Antioxidants in the tea leaves are nearly exhausted after black tea is processed whereas in green tea, almost all of its antioxidants are left in the leaves after processing.
Antioxidants in an apple
Antioxidants are active when an apple is sliced. You must have noticed that after slicing an apple, its flesh slowly turns into brown. That is because the apple’s flesh is reacting to oxygen when it is exposed to air. This reaction produces free radicals and could create a chain reaction.
All fruits have antioxidants. Different types of fruits have different types of antioxidants. This is nature’s defense for the fruit from oxidizing.
Let’s get back to the apple. When free radicals are formed in the exposed flesh, the antioxidants in the apple quenches these free radicals to prevent a chain reaction. All of the exposed area of the flesh reacts to oxygen and therefore all these areas forms free radicals which are then quenched by the apple’s antioxidants. Chain reaction cannot continue to the inside flesh as antioxidants quench these free radicals.
The discoloration you see in the exposed flesh are the result of molecules which reacted to oxygen. Scrape off that layer and you will see what the antioxidants in the apple has accomplished. It stopped the oxidation from going further inside the flesh.
Black Tea Processing
The following are the basic processing of black tea.
2. Withering – the leaves are spread and left to dry.
3. Rolling – the leaves are twisted and rolled either by hand or machinery. This process breaks or cracks the surface of the leaves exposing it to oxygen.
4. Oxidation or fermentation – the leaves are left to dry for several hours until it is about 80% dry.
5. Drying – the leaves further dried by applying heat without burning the leaves. This stops the oxidation process.
Just like the apple when the membranes of the leaves cracked in the rolling process, it exposed the insides of the leaves to oxygen. The free radicals produced are quenched by the antioxidants inside the tea leaves. Therefore those antioxidants that quenched the free radicals are already spent and will not be available in the finished product.
Green Tea Processing
This process differs a little bit from the way black tea is processed.
As you can see, the steps that can oxidize the leaves, rolling and oxidation, are omitted leaving the antioxidant content of the leaves almost intact.
Which do you prefer?
Now that you have seen the difference in processing and the final outcome of antioxidant content, what do you prefer? Tea with more antioxidant content? Others prefer the stronger taste of black tea against the milder taste of green tea. Others prefer green tea because of its healthful benefits.
How to get more antioxidants from tea
Our body can absorb only a small percentage of the antioxidants in tea. By combining it with citrus juices or vitamin c, our body’s absorption of the antioxidants in tea can multiply more than 5 times