Woman drinking black tea over green tea for theaflavins benefits

Why Black is the New Green Tea

We’ve been drinking green tea for years, and with good reason. Not only does it make for a tasty teatime, but study after study has demonstrated the protective effects of the antioxidants that green tea is loaded with, leading many of us to also take it in extract form. But have we been missing out by giving black tea the shrug off? As it turns out, black tea contains theaflavins, which have health benefits in their own right. Here’s how the two tea varieties compare.

green tea

What’s so great about green tea?

So why has green tea been a favorite for so many years? Green tea is loaded with antioxidants, which are potent age-fighting nutrients that protect cells and tissues from destruction caused by free radicals. Produced from environmental toxins, free radicals attack healthy cells and increase inflammation throughout your body, causing irreversible damage. Antioxidants in green tea gobble up those free radicals and reduce inflammation, keeping your cells safe and healthy.

Among other benefits, green tea has been shown to:

  • Protect against heart disease
  • Support the immune system
  • Enhance mood and memory
  • Relieve arthritis
  • Help manage blood sugar

But green tea has its limits. It can't stop the production of free radicals or prevent inflammation from starting in the first place. That’s where black tea comes in.


black tea

Welcome to the dark side: the benefits of black tea

Might black tea be better for you than green tea? If longevity is your game plan, the answer is: perhaps. By influencing the expression of certain genes, black tea can prevent the production of free radicals and stop inflammation before it even starts, thanks to compounds called theaflavins.

Preclinical evidence shows that theaflavins, which give the tea its reddish hue, may protect against a huge array of different threats to our health, including cancer, atherosclerosis, obesity, osteoporosis, periodontal disease, inflammatory disorders and bacterial and viral infections.1

woman enjoying black tea

Black tea and inflammation

Much of the misery of age-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic pain and even cancer can be traced to inflammation. Chronic inflammation saturates your body in molecules known as cytokines, which are used by immune system cells to signal each other and react to potential threats. Circulating inflammatory cytokines have been linked to arterial disease, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, stroke and coronary heart disease, among other serious concerns.2,3

These inflammatory molecules are the products of specific genes, and black tea theaflavins can turn those genes off, helping to control inflammation when and where it starts.

Highly purified theaflavin extracts have been shown to reduce damage caused by inflammation-based diseases, such as:

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease


drinking tea

Black or green, tea is a healthy choice

Both black and green tea have health benefits, whether you’re seeking the healthy mood and inflammatory response of green tea or want to address the genes involved in inflammation at their source with theaflavins from black tea. Since inflammation is the common denominator of all chronic age-related diseases, drink up! Or, seek a black tea or green tea based extract to add to your longevity regimen.

About the Author: Dr. Michael A. Smith received his medical doctorate from the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center, and he practiced Internal Medicine and Radiology in Dallas, Texas in the early 2000s. Dr. Smith is the author of The Supplement Pyramid: How to Build your Personalized Nutritional Regimen. He is also the host of the Live Foreverish podcast and Facebook Live show for Life Extension.


  1. Noberini 2012; Takemoto 2018.
  2. Ageing Res Rev. 2011;10(3):319–329
  3. Lancet. 2010;375(9709):132–140