Free Radicals and Antioxidants

Teas are categorized according to their oxidation levels, which is called the fermentation process. Green tea is pan heated, baked, or steamed to prevent oxidation and thus the leaves remain green. Black tea is fully fermented, and Oolong tea is partially fermented.

The antioxidant epigalloctechin-3 gallate ( EGCG ) is lost in oolong and black varieties when fermented but preserved in green tea. Green tea is high in antioxidants and antioxidants are thought to prevent free radicals. White tea has been reported to have an even higher amount of antioxidants.

A free radical is any molecular species capable of independent existence, that contains one or more unpaired electrons not contributing to intermolecular bonding, and is, in that sense, “free”. They are produced by oxidation/reduction reactions, in which there is a transfer of only one electron at a time, or when a covalent bond is broken and one electron from each pair remains with each atom. Thus, a free radical has an unpaired electron.

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