Q: Is Decaf Tea Less Protective?
Is decaffeinated green tea as effective an antioxidant as regular green tea, particularly with regard to cancer prevention? I assume the process of decaffeinating tea makes more changes than just removing caffeine.
A: The health benefits of tea are related to the polyphenols (catechins) it contains. These manage to survive much of the processing that tea undergoes after harvest.
Both green and black tea come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. To make green tea, the leaves are briefly steamed and then dried. For black tea, the leaves are crushed, piled in heaps and "sweated" (a natural oxidation process that causes the leaves to darken and develop a different aroma and flavor than green tea). Sweating also destroys some of the polyphenols, which is why green tea is more health-protective. Read more...