Antioxidants help protect your body from cell damage. This sounds simplistic but the important thing to know is that certain foods and drinks ( like wu-long tea! ) have high levels of natural antioxidants. If you have been drinking wu-long tea for a while you may not have even realized that you have been doing your body a big favor! Below is a little bit more of a "textbook" definition:
Definition of an antioxidant
Antioxidants are molecules which can safely interact with free radicals and terminate the chain reaction before vital molecules are damaged (as in Vitamin C), or seek out and scavenge free radicals ( as in Vitamin E ). This is where it can be noted that research has indicated that one of the main antioxidants found in green tea ( epigallocatechin 3-gallate a.k.a. EGCG ) has been found to be much more powerful than both Vitamins C and E.
Compared to other known antioxidants, EGCG was found to be 100 times more effective than vitamin C, 25 times more effective than Vitamin E at neutralizing free radicals.
Antioxidant levels in Tea
Tea naturaly has polyphenols which are the major family of antioxidants derived from teas.
As teas are oxidized, the levels of SOME powerful antioxidants decrease while others increase. Green teas are very high in the powerful antioxidant "EGCG" because of the minimal amount of oxidization ( which retains the antioxidant qualities) required prior to packaging.
Wu-Long teas, which are a bit more oxidized have less "EGCG". However, the Wu-long teas make up for the decrease in this antioxidant because the oxidization process INCREASES the amount of theaflavins and thearubigins. These are known to have the same powerful antioxidant effects as the polyhenol "EGCG".
That's great news for those who prefer either of these two teas over the other! You can still get the desired antioxidant benefit from each tea - Wu-long or Green Tea!