How to Choose the Best Green Tea for You

How to Choose the Best Green Tea for You

Green tea is a healthy, tasty and relaxing drink, one that has less caffeine than coffee. It’s no wonder that green tea has become so popular.

But, how do you choose the best green tea?

There are so many different brands out there, along with individual types of green tea such as gunpowder green, matcha, sencha and many more.

In this post, we show you exactly how to choose, along with the best products that are out there. We also talk about the benefits of green tea and how you can get the most out of it.

The Best Green Teas Compared

Swipe left to view more columns

Lipton Green Tea
Tealyra Imperial Jasmine Dragon Pearls
Twinings Organic Green Tea
Davidson’s Organics Tea Gunpowder Green
Numi Organic Tea

Brand

Type

Bags

Loose Leaf

Bags

Loose Leaf

Bags

Catechins

150 mg

Unknown

125 mg

166 mg

95 mg

EGCG

80 mg

Unknown

57 mg

87 mg

50 mg

Independently Tested?

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Price Comparison

$

$$

$$

$

$$$

What is Green Tea?

Green tea

Like black tea, oolong tea and white tea, green tea is produced from the leaves of the species Camellia sinensis. With green tea, the leaves are heated soon after being picked – halting the oxidation process.

This production process gives green tea more nuanced and subtle flavors than other types of tea. It also tends to be low in caffeine, often between 10% and 30% the caffeine content of a cup of coffee.

These aspects make it a relaxing drink, one that can be consumed throughout the day.

The flavor nuances also mean that there are considerable taste differences between brands. This allows people to experiment with teas and find multiple ones that they enjoy.

What Makes Green Tea Special?

Green tea is cherished for many reasons. In fact, it’s a very popular choice.

One reason is the compounds. Green tea contains catechin polyphenols. These have strong antioxidant impacts and may promote health in a range of ways. A particularly important catechin is epigallocatechin gallate – or, as you may know it, EGCG.

EGCG is present in all types of tea but the concentration is highest in green tea (1).

Green tea also contains some caffeine and essential oils. The oils impact the aroma and taste of the tea.

Green Tea Benefits

Green tea is well-known as a safe and beneficial drink – one that can promote health in a variety of areas.

  • Heart disease. Regular green tea consumption may decrease heart disease risk and the chance of dying from heart disease (2,3). The tea can also decrease total cholesterol levels (4), which may further decrease risk.
  • Cancer prevention. Green tea could help prevent various types of cancer, including prostate cancer (5), lung cancer (6) and liver cancer (7). It may also reduce the risk of death from cancer (8).
  • Diabetes. Drinking 3 or more cups of green tea per day may lower type 2 diabetes risk (9).
  • Immune system. Green tea consumption may reduce the risk of getting the flu (10,11).
  • Memory and cognitive improvements. Green tea consumption may protect against cognitive impairment and improve memory (12,13,14).

Most studies into green tea are observational. They tend to look at overall patterns in a population, along with levels of green tea consumption. As such, they don’t test cause and effect directly.

But, the research still clearly shows that green tea is an important component of a healthy lifestyle – and is likely to promote various benefits. Plus, researchers have identified various powerful compounds and mechanisms for health impacts.

Green Tea and Weight Loss

Green tea is also associated with weight loss. In fact, green tea extract is common in weight loss supplements, like TruVision and AtraFen. Green tea also features in detox products like Fit Tea. Yet, evidence for weight loss benefits has been mixed.

  • Any observed effects may be associated with the caffeine, as caffeine can suppress appetite (15). But, some studies have shown effects from decaffeinated green tea extract. This suggests the catechins in green tea are relevant too (16).
  • In fact, many people talk about ECGC and weight loss. There is significant evidence for this role (17). Still, most studies have focused on green tea extract, rather than drinking green tea (18).
  • Despite the potential, some studies have found no weight loss impact, even from large doses of caffeine-rich green tea extract (19).
  • There may also be behavioral implications for weight loss. For example, green tea is very low in calories and takes time to consume. This may help people reduce their daily calorie intake.

There isn’t currently enough evidence to say whether drinking green tea promotes weight loss. But, the tea isn’t likely to hurt. If nothing else, the caffeine content and the behavioral implications may make it easier for you to lose weight.

Other Sources of the Compounds

You can also access the benefits of green tea in other ways, such as green tea supplements and matcha powders. These often have higher concentrations of EGCG and other plant-based compounds. But, you need to be careful, as supplements aren’t regulated and don’t always match their labels.

Besides, those approaches don’t create the same pleasurable experience you get with drinking green tea. They don’t have the same behavioral impacts either.

Green tea is also considered safe, as it is widely consumed. The main risk is simply the caffeine, which can cause side effects like nervousness and insomnia in people who are sensitive. There is much less safety evidence for supplements.

How to Choose the Best Green Tea

Green tea on a table

Green tea brands might look the same, but they’re not. There are multiple potential issues, such as purity, whether there are any contaminants and the levels of beneficial compounds.

This means that it’s important to pay close attention to the products you choose. Key factors to look for include:

  • Testing. Some products will be tested independently. Passing such testing is a key sign of quality and shows that the product lives up to its claims.
  • Reviews. Customer experience is a strong indication of how good a product is. This also helps you determine how the tea tastes. Look for products with many reviews, where most of the reviews are positive.
  • EGCG content. This won’t always be stated. But, a higher level of EGCG should mean additional health benefits.
  • Ingredients. Pay attention to the ingredients. You want products that are as close to natural as they can be. If extra flavoring agents or sweeteners are added, make sure these are natural and healthy.

Tea Bags vs Loose Leaf

Tea lovers know that the best quality tea will always be loose leaf. This approach allows the tea leaves to expand, which gives you the most benefits and flavor from the tea.

You can also be more confident about tea leaves. After all, you see exactly what you’re getting.

On the other hand, bagged tea is variable. Some brands rely on cheap tea leaves. The tea is often more processed too, meaning you typically get smaller fragments of tea leaves.

Bagged tea can still offer benefits, especially if you are selective about the brand. Plus, the tea is convenient. That’s perfect for anyone who is traveling.

Top Green Tea Brands You Can Buy

These brands are all reliable, taste good and are easy to find.

Lipton Green Tea

Lipton Green Tea

Lipton is a household name and is a reliable choice for high-quality tea. Their green tea just contains the tea, there is nothing extra to worry about. Testing has found roughly 150 mg of catechins and 80 mg of EGCG in an 8 oz. brewed cup of tea.

The teabags are a conventional style, made of paper with a paper tab and a string. Reviews suggest that the tea tastes good, even for people who are particular about their green tea.

Independent testing shows that there are around 150 mg of catechins and 80 mg of EGCG for each brewed cup of the tea (8 fl. oz cup).

There are also flavored versions from the same brand, such as Cranberry Pomegranate Green Tea. But, some of these use natural flavors and soy lecithin as ingredients. Those inclusions won’t suit everyone.

PROS
  • Trusted brand
  • Has passed independent testing
  • Inexpensive
  • No added ingredients
  • More than 1,000 amazon reviews, mostly positive
CONS
  • Tea bags, rather than loose leaf tea
  • Flavored versions contain ‘natural flavors’

Tealyra Imperial Jasmine Dragon Pearls

Tealyra Imperial Jasmine Dragon Pearls

This brand uses pearls of tea. This type of tea unfurls as it is brewed, creating an amazing aroma and taste. The style is particularly fascinating to watch.

Reviews suggest that the tea tastes much better than supermarket jasmine tea bags. The tea is highly aromatic, with a fresher scent and it feels lighter in your mouth.

It’s always best to drink loose leaf teas using an infuser or a strainer. But, the use of pearls means that you can drink without a strainer. Most of the leaves will stay on the bottom of the cup and you can easily avoid the ones that do not.

PROS
  • Has more than 700 Amazon reviews, mostly positive
  • Strong focus on product quality
  • The brand produces many different teas, including other green tea products
CONS
  • Hasn’t been independently tested

Twinings Organic Green Tea

Twinings Organic Green Tea

Twinings is another brand that should look familiar. Their green tea is a popular choice, especially as it is both organic and inexpensive. The company recommends two minutes of steep time, which produces a honey-yellow cup of green tea.

Tea bags are individually wrapped, which helps seal in the freshness. This also makes the tea perfect for traveling. Reviews suggest that the tea has a smooth taste and it is generally popular.

Independent testing shows that there is around 57 mg of EGCG and 125 mg of catechins in an 8 fl. oz cup of tea.

There are also flavored blends. These work well for anyone who likes the concept of green tea but doesn’t enjoy the taste. Examples include Pomegranate, Raspberry & Strawberry Green Tea, Green Tea with Mint and Green Tea with Jasmine. However, the brand does add in natural flavors to create some of the blends.

PROS
  • Has passed independent testing
  • A trusted brand
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • USDA organic certified
  • More than 6,500 reviews on Amazon, with an average rating of around 4.5 stars
CONS
  • Tea bags, not loose leaf
  • Flavored blends add in ‘natural flavors’

Davidson’s Organics Tea Gunpowder Green

Davidson’s Organics Tea Gunpowder Green

Davidson’s Organics isn’t a brand that you’ll normally find at grocery stores. But, it is a popular option for tea, especially if you want to buy in bulk. This particular product is a one-pound bag that contains USDA organic loose leaf tea.

Reviews suggest that the gunpowder green flavor is aromatic with a somewhat floral taste. One limitation is that the leaves are not rolled as much as with some other brands. In some cases, there are stems in the mix too. This is fairly normal if you’re buying in bulk and the product is still a good choice for the price.

According to independent testing, this is a particularly high catechin and EGCG brand, offering up to 87 mg of EGCG and 166 mg of catechins.

The brand offers an extensive range of different teas (105 in total!). Many of these are green teas, such as Green with Lemon Ginseng, Green Chai with Orange Peel and Moroccan Green with Mint. So, you can try out multiple types until you find one that you fall in love with.

PROS
  • Has passed independent testing
  • USDA organic certified
  • Is popular, with more than 9,000 reviews on Amazon
  • There are many green teas to choose from
CONS
  • Some reviewers report stems in the mix and that leaves are not tightly rolled

Numi Organic Tea

Numi Organic Tea

The tea bags from Numi are a particularly good option if you don’t want loose leaf tea. The brand uses green tea pearls, which unfurl during seeping. These give you the maximum possible flavor from a tea bag. The bags are also individually sealed, helping them to stay fresh.

Discussions by reviewers suggest that Numi is a particularly good brand for anyone trying to avoid additives and artificial ingredients. Reviews also suggest that the aroma is enjoyable, while the tea itself is smooth and has a bold flavor. Some users may want to add in some honey or stevia to make it a little sweeter.

Independent testing puts the EGCG content of an 8 fl. oz cup from the tea bags at around 50 mg and the catechin content at around 95 mg.

Numi also offers loose leaf tea that can be purchased in bulk. This includes the same gunpowder green tea, along with two jasmine green tea options. Reviews for the loose leaf are overwhelmingly positive too.

PROS
  • Tea bags have passed independent testing
  • Offers bags and loose leaf options
  • Bags use pearls
  • Has USDA organic certification
  • Around 600 reviews on Amazon, with mostly positive responses
CONS
  • Relatively expensive for the amount of tea

The Best Bottled Green Tea

Brewing green tea yourself is always going to offer the most health benefits. But, bottled green tea is an interesting alternative for some situations.

Bottled versions still contain all the same beneficial compounds. They’re also portable and easy-to-consume. Even so, you need to be very careful about the products that you choose.

Many brands will add extra ingredients to make the tea taste sweeter and more interesting. They might also have additives or use chemical processing.

Thankfully, there are some good options, like the brand below.

Ito En Oi Ocha Green Tea, Unsweetened

Ito En Oi Ocha Green Tea, Unsweetened

This is a Japanese green tea brand, which has a focus on health benefits. The tea is produced from tea leaves, not from concentrate or powder. The ingredients list just includes purified water, green tea and ascorbic acid (which provides vitamin C). This means there are no added flavors or preservatives.

Reviews suggest that the tea tastes mellow and isn’t excessively sweet or bitter. The tea simply ends up being healthy and refreshing. People who normally drink sweetened tea may need a little time to get used to the flavor, but this tea is worth the effort.

The main limitation is the catechin content. Independent testing puts this at less than 65 mg and around 20 mg of EGCG for 8 fl. oz of the tea. Brewed tea often has more beneficial compounds than this. Still, the levels aren’t unusual for bottled tea.

PROS
  • Has passed independent testing
  • Unsweetened
  • Has more than 900 reviews on Amazon, which are mostly positive
  • Contains few ingredients
CONS
  • Contains a low amount of catechins, including EGCG

Getting the Most Out of Green Tea

Green tea in a teapot

How you make the tea plays a key role in your overall experience.

In fact, many people think they don’t like green tea, simply because they haven’t tried a well-brewed cup. Poorly brewed green tea often ends up tasting harsh, bitter or somewhat grassy.

Green tea shouldn’t taste like that. Instead, it tends to have subtle and enjoyable flavors.

Making Green Tea at Home

As a general rule, green tea is steeped at low temperatures for relatively short periods of time.

  • 140°F to 180°F is a good goal. Alternatively, start with cold water and let it come close to boiling. If the water boils, you’ll need to let it cool – don’t make green tea with boiling water.
  • Green tea typically steeps for between 1 and 3 minutes. You’ll need to play around with the steeping time, as this will vary.
  • Tea with small leaves will infuse faster. Large leaves and pearls take longer.
  • The Fragrant Leaf offers advice about temperatures and steeping times for specific types of green tea.

One good approach is to taste the tea once it has been steeping for a minute. Then taste it again every 30 seconds until you get a flavor you enjoy.

Health Implications

Brewing time doesn’t appear to dramatically impact the catechin content (20,21). The tea just needs to be steeped for around 3 minutes to provide the most beneficial compounds. Anything above that won’t give any more health advantages.

However, research hasn’t considered every type of green tea and they can vary dramatically. You’ll also want to choose the brewing time based on the taste of the tea. After all, the tea needs to be enjoyable.

The site Verywell Fit highlights one alternative, which involves steeping large green tea leaves in cold water for 120 minutes. The idea is similar to cold brew coffee and could be worth trying.

Using an Infuser

If you’re using loose leaf tea, look for an infuser that has plenty of space. The tea needs to unfurl to give you the most benefits. Small infusers don’t allow for this, which affects the quality of the finished drink.

Alternatively, you can infuse the tea in the cup or pot itself. Then use a strainer when it is time to serve.

Best Time to Drink Green Tea for Benefits

Green tea is a healthy drink, one that you can consume regularly. But, the time of day does make a difference.

  • Green tea is particularly good first thing in the morning.
  • You can also drink it after a meal. But, try to leave a gap of at least two hours between the meal and your tea. This helps ensure that the catechins don’t interact with animal proteins or milk casein.
  • Avoid green tea in the evening if you’re sensitive to caffeine or find sleeping difficult.

Green Tea and Caffeine

People often ask about the caffeine in green tea.

First off, the tea isn’t caffeine-free. But, it does contain less caffeine than coffee (around half as much). The difference means you’ll still get a caffeine kick, it just won’t be as dramatic.

 Green tea also contains l-theanine. This amino acid helps to mellow out the impact of caffeine. That combination offers the advantages of caffeine, without the typical crash that caffeine often brings.   

Variation in Caffeine Content

Green tea is relatively low in caffeine. But, the caffeine content isn’t consistent.

Instead, it is influenced by various factors. The following are the most significant and apply to all types of tea.

  • Steeping time. Tea that is steeped for longer will have more caffeine.
  • Water temperature. Hotter water increases the caffeine content of the finished drink.
  • Type of leaf. Older leaves typically contain less caffeine. The location of harvesting may also have an impact. So, caffeine content can vary between brands.
  • Amount of tea. Using more tea leaves will increase the caffeine content.
  • Size of tea leaves. Smaller leaves or chopped leaves have more surface area, which releases more caffeine. This often means that bagged tea will typically give more caffeine than tea leaves.

Many people say that green tea has less caffeine than black tea. That’s somewhat true but is also misleading.

The types of tea have roughly the same caffeine content – as the oxidation process doesn’t affect caffeine. Instead, caffeine is influenced by factors like steeping time and water temperature.

Green tea is generally steeped for shorter periods at lower temperatures. So, on average, a cup of green tea will have less caffeine than a similar cup of black tea.

Our Top Pick

All of the brands in this article are great choices and many offer multiple individual teas to try. But, our favorite is Numi Organic Tea. We particularly like the way that there are both bagged and loose leaf options, so you can choose the style that works for you.

Plus, their Gunpowder Green tea uses the pearls style of tea leaf. This approach gives you the maximum flavor and makes the whole leaf tea very easy to brew.

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