Catechins are a type of natural antioxidant, and Epigallocatechin gallate, also known as EGCG, is considered to be the most potent of this group of antioxidants and may have therapeutic applications in the treatment of many disorders (e.g. cancer, obesity) according to multiple studies.
In a study published in 2005 analyzing the catechin content of over 70 teas consumed in the U.S., researchers compared the amount of catechins contained in 24 green teas and 34 black teas. Their findings? Green teas’ catechin content ranged from 4.4 to 100.0 ml/g, with more than half of the teas scoring below the 40 ml/g mark. Black teas ranged from 5.4 to 69.5 ml/g, and 17 black teas scored higher than the lowest 9 green teas in terms of their catechin content. Furthermore, this is without considering the transformation of some catechins into theaflavins (also a powerful antioxidant) in black tea which is a direct result of oxidization or fermentation. While it is not a false statement to claim that green tea contains more catechins than black tea, clearly, many green teas do not live up to the hype. A more accurate statement is, high quality tea contains more catechins.
Another common misconception is that the oxidization or fermentation of tea, that is the transformation process from green tea (unoxidized), to oolong (semi-oxidized), and finally to black tea (100% oxidized), reduces the health benefits by eliminating the catechins in tea. In fact, the oxidization converts the catechins into other types of polyphenols, basically different forms of antioxidants with their own beneficial properties. Furthermore researchers have also found that EGCG content is not significantly reduced in oolong tea, and in some instances, even shows slightly higher levels than green tea. Most findings suggest that EGCG content remains stable in the transformation from green to oolong tea. Finally, it is also interesting to note that scientists have established that EGCG will naturally metabolize into some theaflavins (antioxidant found mainly in oxidized/fermented tea) into the liver, broadening our understanding of the transformational process of catechins.
The bottom line:
1. Drink high quality tea. (BTW, it tastes much better,too!)
2. Different types of tea have arguably equally powerful health benefits.
3. Enjoy, Experiment, and Grow!
Thanks for reading, and Walk On.