Why is my Green Tea Brown?

Green-Tea Brown An Apple a Day Alyse Co-cliff

When I first started to consume green tea a few years back, I peered into my cup and asked myself why on earth do they call it green tea if it turns the water brown? My journey into health and nutrition led me to uncover the answer and had me switching to a higher quality variety quick smart. If you are drinking green tea for its health benefits, be wary of the brand you are consuming.

Some Information on Green Tea…

Green tea comes from the same plant as black tea, but is harvested at a younger age. It is consumed “fresh”, while black tea is consumed roasted. Green tea is thus less processed and retains more of its nutrients and antioxidants than black tea or many of the other tea varieties.

According to Dr Mercola, Green tea contains ‘catechins’ which are a class of polyphenols or naturally occurring antioxidants. One of the four main ‘catechins’ is called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is an antioxidant that is way more powerful than vitamin C or vitamin E.

The health benefits of  EGCG are plentiful, including the prevention of:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • High blood lipid
  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Cerebral thrombus
  • Prostate cancer
  • Heart attack and stroke

Several studies have also found that EGCG can improve exercise performance. A recent study found that green tea extract helps improve energy expenditure and fat metabolism. 

Are all green teas created equal?

There is often a distinct difference between the processing of the best and worst variety available on supermarket shelves. A number of green teas available today have been oxidized (or exposed to large amounts of light and/or oxygen once picked). High levels of oxidation may detract from the valuable properties we spoke about earlier. According to a study conducted by Consumer Lab, if you drink green tea for your health, be aware that the antioxidant levels can vary by more than 240% across all products.

The easiest way to evaluate a green tea’s quality is its colour: if your green tea is actually brown, it’s likely been oxidized and you are missing out on those all important health benefits.

What should I drink? 

Organic Matcha tea is made of tea leaves ground into a powder which, is added straight to your water. You can read more on Matcha back here on the blog tomorrow. Organic Sencha green tea is also said to be a great alternative.

How Much Tea Can I Drink?!

If you enjoy green tea, cap it at 1-2 cups per day. Whilst Green Tea contains caffeine, one cup of coffee contains 100-150mg of caffeine (for information regarding whether caffeine could be affecting your health can be found here); a cup of green tea has only about 25mg. That said, if you feel like green tea doesn’t agree with you, best thing to do is to skip it altogether.


  1. Brooke


    I have wanted to drink green tea but have disliked any that I ave tried. I know how good green tea is for you and would love to find a good quality brand that has a pleasant taste. Do you have a brand you recommend?


  2. John

    From my experience, green tea can turn brown if you steep for too long, or if you use water that’s too hot. Today I had two cups of organic sencha; the first, I steeped for four minutes in hot water, and the tea went from light green to gold. Later on, my second cup was brewed in slightly less hot water for maybe half the time, and it remained a nice, light green.

  3. Alyse Co-cliff

    Thanks for the extra information John, I really appreciate it. I’ll definitely take that into consideration next time I brew a cup. I’ll report back to you with my results 🙂

  4. Kent Wood

    If you don’t mind spending (quite) a bit more, give this ‘Iyemon cha’ a try. It’s as green as green tea can get but has the roasted rice which gives it a fuller, almost nutty background. That said, green tea is an acquired taste. I didn’t like coffee much when I first tried it either! 🙂

  5. Alyse

    Thanks for the information Kent! If this tastes like the one we are served at our favourite Japanese restaurant, I would love to try it (as long as it’s organic of course) 🙂 x

  6. Alyse

    Hi Brooke,

    Try the Matcha and Sencha varieties, they have a much milder taste. My favourite Australian brand is that of “Love Chai, Love Tea”. You can purchase these online from houseoforganics.com.au.

    Another favourite is the Pukkah tea varieties – their blends are delicious x


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Meet Alyse

I’m a qualified Nutritionist who believes an evidence-based approach to modern nutrition is severely under-rated. Patients are so often left in the dark when it comes to health-care and as a firm believer in the old saying “knowledge is power”, my ultimate goal is to provide my readers, students and patients with clear and actionable advice that ultimately helps you reach your full potential.