Green Tea Vs Herbal Tea: 5 Differences To Know!
There’s nothing more comforting than a soothing mug of hot tea. Especially as we move into the colder months, tea is one of the best ways to cozy up. In fact, it’s the most popular beverage around the world after water! And with hundreds of varieties of tea, you will never get bored.
But tea isn’t just tasty: it actually offers a wide variety of health benefits. Each type of tea offers different perks, and by enjoying both herbal and green teas you get the best of both worlds.
Both herbal teas and green tea are excellent healthy teas to incorporate into your diet. So what are the key differences between these two teas? Let’s explore what they each have to offer.
Green Tea Vs. Herbal Tea at a Glance
Want to skip the details? Here are the pros and cons of green tea and herbal tea at a glance.
Green Tea Advantages:
- High in antioxidants
- Lightly caffeinated
- Improves brain function
- Helps with fat loss
Green Tea Disadvantages:
- Contains caffeine
- More bitter taste than herbal tea
- Contains tannins
- Contains oxalic acid
Herbal Tea Advantages:
- Contains antioxidants
- Low tannin levels
- Pleasant, non-bitter flavor
- Great for cardiovascular health
- No caffeine
- Contains copper and fluoride
- Benefits like calming and fighting inflammation
Herbal Tea Disadvantages:
- Not ideal if you are looking for a caffeine boost
- Slightly fewer antioxidants than green tea
Winner: Want a quick summary? The editor’s choice says: both are great, and it depends on your goals! The most important difference is the caffeine levels. Both teas are highly recommended for their health and mental benefits. If you want an energy boost, green tea is the way to go. If you want to be calmed and soothed, go for herbal teas!
Is Green Tea Herbal Tea?
Often confused, green tea is not an herbal tea. Read on to learn some of the key differences in more detail.
The Key Differences
Probably the most noticeable difference between green tea and herbal teas is the level of caffeine they each contain. Herbal teas generally contain zero caffeine, whereas green tea contains moderate caffeine.
Caffeine has a number of pros and cons that are important to consider when deciding between green tea and herbal teas.
Pros of Caffeine:
- Increases your metabolism
- Boosts your mental alertness, including memory, reaction time, mood, and overall brain function (fun fact- green tea also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which further boosts your brainpower!)
- Can elevate your mood
- Improves your body’s fat-burning abilities
- Can improve exercise performance
- May prevent brain aging including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
Cons of Caffeine:
- Can make it tough to sleep
- Can cause anxiety, jitters, and shakiness
- Causes digestive distress in some people
- When consumed in excess, can lead to heart palpitations
- Can cause headaches
To avoid problems from caffeine consumption, we suggest drinking caffeine before noon and in moderation.
Verdict: It depends on your individual body and goals. If you are sensitive to caffeine, you will want to limit your green tea consumption and drink it early in the day. If you are looking for a boost, green tea is for you. If you want to skip caffeine, herbal tea is the way to go.
You’ve probably heard the word ‘antioxidant’ buzzing around in the last few years. Antioxidants are bioactive compounds that fight oxidative stress in the body.
Oxidative stress leads to numerous non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, different types of cancer, autoimmune diseases, and neurodegenerative disorders. Antioxidants are considered health superheroes because they fight free radicals in the body, preventing cancer and reducing inflammation.
The polyphenols in teas are known antioxidants . So when it comes to the health benefits and differences between green tea and herbal teas, it in large part comes down to antioxidants. While both green tea and rooibos tea contain antioxidants, the amounts and type of antioxidants differ.
Green tea contains more antioxidants than any other type of tea. It has high levels of active catechins and epigallocatechin gallate which act as powerful antioxidants that fight cancer and inflammation.
However, this 2018 review  also found that that “Herbal teas/beverages are rich sources of natural bioactive compounds such as carotenoids, phenolic acids, flavonoids, coumarins, alkaloids, polyacetylenes, saponins and terpenoids, among others…herbal beverages, when consumed within a balanced diet, may improve the antioxidant status, and reduce oxidative stress in humans.”
Verdict: So both herbal teas and green tea contain healthy antioxidants. However, green tea’s higher levels make it the clear winner here!
You’ve probably heard that ginger or peppermint tea is a great way to settle a troubled tummy. This isn’t just an old wives’ tale: in fact, these herbal teas offer wonderful digestive support.
Teas like peppermint , ginger, fennel, spearmint, chamomile are excellent choices to soothe an upset stomach, improve digestion, and reduce bloating. Plus, because they lack caffeine, you don’t need to worry about caffeine-induced tummy troubles.
On the other hand, green tea is no slouch when it comes to digestion either. This 2014 study  showed that green tea was very effective in reducing diarrhea and vomiting in pelvic radiotherapy patients with abdominal and pelvic malignancy. However, due to its higher caffeine levels, drinking a lot of green tea can actually cause digestive distress so stick to just one or two cups a day.
Verdict: Herbal teas beat out green tea for digestive support.
Herbal teas are known as an effective bedtime beverage to help you sleep. But do they really make a difference?
Studies suggest that they do, with this 2011 study  showing that participants consuming passionflower tea had “a significantly better rating for passionflower compared with placebo”.
Teas like chamomile and peppermint are also excellent for calming your nervous system before bed. Green tea, on the other hand, is not a good choice before bed. Its caffeine levels will keep you awake and counting sheep!
Verdict: Herbal teas win this round.
Tannins and Oxalic Acid
If you’ve never heard of oxalic acid, it’s a good thing to be aware of because it impacts your digestion. Oxalic acid is an organic compound called an antinutrient.
This antinutrient binds to minerals in your digestive system and prevents your body from absorbing them. For instance, many leafy greens are high in both calcium and oxalic acid, which prevents high levels of calcium from being absorbed into the body.
Many healthy foods contain oxalic acid, but it is good to be aware of which ones contain high levels if your doctor recommends avoiding these acids. Why would your doctor suggest you avoid them?
Well, if you are prone to kidney stones, eating a diet low in oxalic acid can be helpful. Green tea contains oxalic acid whereas most herbal teas do not.
Tannins, like oxalic acid, interfere with our body’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients like iron in our food. They are water-soluble polyphenols common in many plant foods, and it is important to know that green tea contains higher levels of tannins than herbal teas.
Verdict: Herbal teas, without a doubt.
What’s the Verdict?
Both green tea and herbal tea are fantastic, healthy beverages any time of year. Healthy green tea is rich in healthy antioxidants and gives you a caffeine boost which is wonderful for energy and your mental clarity. On the other hand, herbal teas are more calming and are the perfect bedtime drink.
But you don’t have to choose: by drinking green tea in the morning and herbal teas in the afternoons and evenings, you get to benefit from the great health properties they each offer.
Written by Stephanie Moore
Stephanie is a professional writer who is a ‘SIBO survivor’ herself with broad experience writing in the health field. She is a regular writer for SIBO Survivor and calls Berlin, Germany home.