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Which Tea has the most catechins?

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Basic Concepts

You may now have read about the benefits of tea catechins and want to know which tea has the most of them so you can use it as a daily supplement. Let's make a few things clear first:

  • Tea catechins, sometimes called green tea catechins, are a group of flavonoids exist naturally in the fresh leaves of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis.
  • There are other flavonoids in various proportions in different selections and varieties of tealeaves. Some of them are uniquely in tea — such as the catechins, theaflavins and thearubigins — they are called tea polyphenols.
  • There are other important health substances in tea other than flavonoids, such as theanine, caffeine, gallic acid, GABA, statin, etc. They may exist in tea selections rich in catechins in various proportions.
  • Catechins are not stable. They deteriorate when come in extended contact with oxygen, light, moisture and other reactive substances in the environment.
  • Various scientific reports gave various descriptions to the taste of different naturally catechins. On the whole, they are somewhat bitter, some more than others, some can be tannic. They are important part of the taste quality of a tea selection. Too little of this unique bitterness lacks depth, too much, not pleasant. The taste of a tea is dependent on how ALL taste and aromatic substances BALANCE with one and other, that includes the catechins.
  • The quality of a tea selection is not dependent on the proportion of catechins it carry, although in the case of green and white teas, better ones are most inevitably loaded with catechins. The reverse, however, is not true — those with a lot of catechins may not necessarily be a better tea. For example, green teas harvested in summer generally has a high content of catechins, but usually most such teas taste inferior to those harvested in Spring.
  • Last but not least, intake of real tea infusion is very different from taking extract pills. Scientists have tried to imitate real tea by making drinks from various tea extracts and found that they are not as effective in lab situations. There are ingredients in tea that they will have to learn a lot more about to understand the details of how tea works in our body.(1)

So which tea has the most catechins? On the whole, green and white teas.

How to choose teas for better health benefits: a Balance

However, not all green and white teas are created equal. Younger leaves hold the most catechins, (click <here> read more about this), as well as the most amino acids. That is why the most tender of first flushes is often sold as the most premium of a variety, because the plant has stored a whole winter's worth of nutrients to fuel the first round of growth. In the natural world, successfully growing healthier, larger, most spread out leaves immediately after winter means survival for the plant. The first tiny buds therefore have most stored in them for the job.

Therefore, choose younger leaves that are first flushes.

We'll list some samples of green and white tea with relatively higher catechins content. Before that, we'd like to remind the shopper to watch out for the quality of their prospective purchase: the decency and intact of the leaves, which reflects the quality of storage; and the protectiveness of the packaging. As mentioned earlier in this article, catechins, as most other quality substances in tea, can easily deteriorate caused by factors in their immediate environment. You don't want to waste time and money on things not as good as they originally should be.

The reader has to be reminded that catechins are generally bitter in taste, adequate portion of them adds depth to the taste, too much of them will be a little off. In another word, the most delicious green teas are less likely listed high in the list.

tea list in descending order of catechins level

Some examples of finer green and white tea with higher content of catechins(2) (in descending content amount)(3):

  1. Kaihua Longding (green)
  2. Zhenghe Baimudan (white)
  3. Fuding Premium Silver Needles (white)
  4. Zhenghe Silver Needles (white)
  5. Huangshan Maofeng (green)
  6. Dinggu Dafang (green)
  7. Fuding Baimudan (white)
  8. Bashan Queshe (green)
  9. Mingshan Shihua (green)
  10. Tianshan Yinya (green)
  11. Wuyuan Mingmei (green)
  12. Biluochun (green)
  13. Sencha (green)
  14. Uji/Yeme Gyokuro (green)
  15. Xihu Longjing (green)
  16. Linhai Panhao (green)
  17. Mengding Ganlu (green)
  18. Anji Baicha(4) (green)

On a budget? Go for generic whole leaf green/white tea from any region, as long as the taste is right (not grassy, thin or tannic, better yet, flowery, nutty, or fuller bodied), a spring harvest and quite fresh, they are as good as most in the list if catechin amount is your primary concern.

One last point:

Don't ever be fooled by labels on tea drinks, instant mixes, and teabags. They may have similar or even the same names as original whole leaf teas, but the absolute majority of these products are incapable of carrying the salutary contents. <Read more>


notes

1. There are many papers which conclude on that, here is an example, and interesting one on fat cell control: J Söhle at al, White Tea extract induces lipolytic activity and inhibits adipogenesis in human subcutaneous (pre)-adipocytes, Nutrition & Metabolism May 2009, 6:20

2. Green and white teas maintain the most of the catechins in the fresh leaves. However, slight variations in processes, packaging for quality maintenance and employment of variations of cultivars would result in products of very similar taste and appearances but of different quantity and proportion of catechin contents. We have compile this short list basing on the amount of catechins found in the fresh young leaves of the cultivars usually employed for the kind of tea varieties. Lower quality products of the same names or products produced using different cultivars or different practices will be different.

3. The data of this list is based on Zhongguo Chaye Dacidian (Encyclopedia Dictionary of Chinese Tealeaves) published by Zhongguo Qinggongye Chubanshe (Light Industry Publisher of China) in 2000, ISBN 978-7-5019-2509-4. However, we have to emphasize again that the quality of the pluck, processing as well as storage affects greatly the final catechin levels of any one type of tea. The data of the reference must have been based on premium products that may or may not have statistically averaged or adjusted in its publication. We shall continue on this topic with other findings and datas.

4. This is one of the lowest catechins content green tea there is. Produced from a special cultivar of the same name, the total average catechins content is 10.7% of dried weight. Contrast that with Zhenghe Baimudan, 28.2%, or Longjing 18.6%. However, Anji Baicha is one of the most sought after green tea and a most expensive one, with very limited annual production. In terms of taste, it provides a unique sweet, ummami, and smooth infusion with an orchidy aroma. Never bitter or grassy, a quality very rare in green tea. Some people like it for that. How real tea helps fight cancers and other diseases is so complex that the scientists are yet to understand anyway, why not drink tea to enjoy rather? We'll review this exquisite tea in a later article. Click <here> to subscribe for all future updates.


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