Which tea is healthiest? No perfect answer.

I often have people ask me which kind of tea is the healthiest, and they tend to get frustrated when I don’t give a clear-cut answer. Here’s why there is no perfect answer: Clinical research on the health benefits of tea done all over the world today often does not contain specific information on what tea was used for the studies. It is only recently that researchers routinely specify whether they are using green, black, oolong, or white tea. Almost never do they specify that they used, for example, Keemun black tea, Genmaicha green tea, or Silver Needles white tea. For one thing, researchers are on a budget and may not be able to buy expensive teas. They often rely on donated tea and/or very inexpensive tea (often tea bags), which will be blends of many different types of black or green tea. Second, it is very early in tea research and we are still sorting out the basic effects of tea in general and just touching on the effects of green vs. black tea. To try to tease out any differences between, say, Keemun black tea and Yunnan black tea seems a bit premature. Since black teas are all produced via similar methods (and all tea comes from the same plant), there may not be huge differences in the heath benefits among the different sub-types of black tea. The same goes for green teas, white teas, and oolong teas. I’m sure that eventually researchers will catch up with your tea questions and have the answers you seek. But I imagine that for quite a while, we won’t have those kind of specifics. If you hear that black tea does thus and so, or green tea is good for a certain problem, it is reasonable to assume that all black tea or all green tea will provide you with similar results. Until we have better data, that is where we are.

Also please understand that tea companies are bound by FDA rules and cannot state that tea can prevent, cure, or treat ANY disease, regardless of what research studies say. The FDA has not approved health claims for tea, and until they do, tea companies can get in big trouble for assertions of this kind.