When Americans drink tea, it's usually black tea, often iced (and in the South, sugared). Many of the recent studies on tea, however, have been done on green tea, served hot, the kind favored in Asia.
No one knows for sure whether tea type makes a difference when it comes to health, but experts say all kinds of teas from the Camellia sinensis plant probably have some health benefits. Each contains high levels of antioxidants, although the way tea is processed (for example, how long it's fermented before being packaged and shipped to stores) can change antioxidant levels as well as color and taste.
"If anything, the data would suggest that tea has benefits, and it doesn't much matter if it's green or oolong or black. But the real definitive studies haven't been done," says Jeffrey Blumberg, a tea researcher at Tufts Nutrition Center in Boston.
Green tea is made by picking the leaves and quickly heating them to stop oxidization, the process by which oxygen interacts with a substance to alter its chemical composition. Green tea typically has a mild, fresh taste.