Yellow, Black or Red Tongkat Ali: Which is the best for you?

Are you searching for the best Tongkat Ali? Or are you comparing Yellow vs Black Tongkat Ali, or Yellow vs Red Tongkat Ali before deciding which one is the best?

Now, this article is perfect to understand the differences between various Tongkat Ali roots, its potency and efficacy on health, and most importantly, safety. 

There are more than 200+ Tongkat Ali brands that contain either Yellow, Black or Red Tongkat Ali – or worst still, a mix of yellow and black Tongkat Ali.

The reality is, that choosing the best Tongkat Ali can be a daunting task. If you are not aware, you may fall into the trap of consuming cheap black Tongkat Ali roots that are illegally produced in China for US consumers.

In this article, we shall assess various types of Tongkat Ali roots that are currently sold in the market today to guide which type of Tongkat Ali is better suited for you.


Generally, there are three types of Tongkat Ali (Yellow Tongkat Ali, Black Tongkat Ali and Red Tongkat Ali), but each species has different bioactive ingredients despite coming from the same family tree. 

  • Yellow Tongkat AliEurycoma Longifolia
  • Black Tongkat AliPolyalthia Bullata
  • Red Tongkat AliStema Tuberosa
Yellow Tongkat Ali
  • Scientific Name: Eurycoma Longifolia
  • Colour: Bright yellow with light yellowish-brown undertones
Black Tongkat Ali
  • Scientific Name: Polyalthia Bullata
  • Colour: Dark brown-grey with charcoal undertones
Red Tongkat Ali
  • Scientific Name: Stema Tuberosa
  • Colour: Brown with strong tones of brownish red at the center of the root.

Cross sectional root of (a) Yellow Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma Longifolia), (b) Red Tongkat Ali (Stema Tuberosa)  and (c) Black Tongkat Ali – Polyalthia Bullata

Studies suggest that Yellow Tongkat Ali (i.e Eurycoma Longifolia) from Malaysia is the best type of Tongkat Ali as it is widely consumed and regarded as safe for general consumption.

We shall deep dive more into the differences between Yellow, Red and Black Tongkat Ali in this article.

Before that, here is a quick assessment criteria.

Assessment Criteria

Our objective evaluation to determine the best Tongkat Ali is based on six criteria by our panel of independent experts and scientists. This is based on score of 1-5 (Low to Very High) and each criterion is explained below:

1. Popularity

Popularity is based on the number of products sold in the market, number of social media mentions, search inquiries and media coverage.

2. Availability

How easy to source or harvest Tongkat Ali plants through sustainable harvesting in the country of origin? Are there regulations or restrictions imposed for exporting Tongkat Ali outside the country of origin?

3. Potency

Tongkat Ali’s potency is measured based on the percentage of bio-active compounds (eg: eurycomanone, glycosaponin, etc) that can be extracted including the various extraction methods – eg: traditional extraction methods (eg: boiling, heat-dried) or advanced extraction technologies (eg: freeze-dried, standardized extract)

4. Proven Benefits

The number of potential or proven health benefits based on credible sources such as scientific studies, clinical trials, and research publications. The number of clinical tests for each Tongkat Ali type is considered in this assessment.

5. Research Publications

The number of research and scientific papers published to date and other public documents related to the research and development activities.

6. Health Risks

Measuring the health risks based on the ingredients, content and side-effects collected from scientific studies and other public information.  We also investigate the level of mercury and lead that can be detrimental to your health.

So let’s take a look at the facts and our top pick!

Yellow Tongkat Ali

Plant Name: Eurycoma Longifiolia

Yellow Tongkat Ali comes from a plant known as Eurycoma Longifolia. Marked by its distinctive yellow root, the plant grows naturally in remote rainforests of Malaysia, Indonesia and some smaller parts of Southern Thailand. 

Yellow Tongkat Ali represents almost 90% of the total global Tongkat Ali market share, which makes it very popular in the US, UK, and Europe.

Quality Tongkat Ali products are generally sourced from yellow Tongkat Ali plants which are harvested in the wild rainforests of Malaysia through sustainable replantation programs.

The Yellow Tongkat Ali is the most widely researched Tongkat Ali with more than 200 research studies and clinical trials published to date.

AKARALI is the best Yellow Tongkat Ali in the world; backed by 26 clinical trials from 20 years of research due to its highly acclaimed MIT-formulated Physta® Tongkat Ali extract.

Many scientists and researchers reported that AKARALI yellow Tongkat Ali delivers more health benefits compared to other types of Tongkat Ali as it is clinically tested to be potent and safe.

In fact, a recent study showed that Yellow Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma Longifolia) performed better in promoting libido and sexual mating behaviour than Red Tongkat Ali (Stema Tuberosa).

Yellow Tongkat Ali has the most bitter taste compared to red or black Tongkat Ali variants. The reason of its extreme bitterness is due to the high level of eurycomanone – a key marker to measure the potency of Tongkat Ali.

Eurycomanone is the prominent bioactive quassinoid present in Tongkat Ali – widely proven by scientists to increase testosterone whilst exhibiting anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.

Here is our final verdict:

Proven Benefits
Research Publications
Health Risks

Black Tongkat Ali

Plant Name : Polyalthia Bullata

Black Tongkat Ali comes from a plant known as Polyalthia bullata with a small root at 2-3 cm in diameter, which is a significantly smaller diameter than yellow Tongkat Ali.

Also known as Wild Black Gorilla, Tongkat Ali Baginda and Tongkat Ali Hitam, the Black Tongkat Ali is found along the rivers in the lowland forest of Peninsular Malaysia such as in the state of Pahang.

Most of the Black Tongkat Ali is not harvested and does not go through any replantation programmes.

And so how does it taste?

Black Tongkat Ali smells fishy (perhaps due to the location where it is generally found – i.e near the river), but generally tastes less bitter than Yellow Tongkat Ali.

Production of Black Tongkat Ali is rare although it is found to be exported in raw slices. While its healing efficacy is touted to be much better than Yellow Tongkat Ali, it is traditionally used by the indigenous as a natural aphrodisiac for men’s health. 

However, there is a lack of research or published papers associated with Black Tongkat Ali found to date.

This makes Black Tongkat Ali less popular amongst those seeking scientific evidence and proof of its health benefits.

At the same time, the Malaysian Health Drugs Authorities placed a ban on Black Tongkat Ali products sold in pharmacies.

A research study showed that 26% out of 100 Black Tongkat Ali (or Tongkat Ali Hitam) products contain high mercury content between 0.53 – 2.35 ppm – higher than the allowable limit of 0.5 ppm.

Despite being the most potent Tongkat Ali, Black Tongkat Ali is largely banned by Government authorities around the world.

However, there are manufacturers in Indonesia who are still exporting Black Tongkat Ali to China illegally for the US consumers.

Here is our final verdict:

Proven Benefits
Research Publications
Health Risks

Red Tongkat Ali

Plant Name : Stema Tuberosa

Now this Red Tongkat Ali or Malaysian Red Ginseng comes from a scientific plant known as Stema Tuberosa.

Red Tongkat Ali comes from a species known as Jackiopsis Ornate from the family of Rubaceae. This rare tree is found growing along rivers, sandy or swampy soil in virgin rainforests up to 400 meters altitude in Peninsular Malaysia.

The plant is similar to Stemona Tuberosa is also found in remote parts of China, Indonesia and Thailand.

The root has it’s name due to its distinct dark red-brownish tone. And after being exposed to heat and sun-dried, it turns into light / bright red. This root is also known by another name such as Akar Haji Samat by locals.

The only reason why it continued to be popular amongst locals is the acceptable taste, that is turned into herbal tonic drinks.

The Red Tongkat Ali smells and tastes like any ginseng. It can taste somewhat sweet, which is the total opposite compared to Yellow and Black Tongkat Ali (which is super bitter!)

It also means that the level of eurycomanone is the lowest in the Red Tongkat Ali.

Has there been any research or scientific evidence done on Red Tongkat Ali to validate its health benefits? After hours of researching, we have found none! Most of the Tongkat Ali clinical trials and scientific studies were based on Eurycoma Longifolia (i.e Yellow Tongkat Ali).

Red ginseng is consumed as regular herbal tea or coffee to give a dose of energy by the Chinese.

On toxicity, we cannot ascertain the level of lead or mercury in red ginseng, but it is believed to be safe as it is widely sold in raw slices (instead of capsules).

Aside from this, we did not find any approved brands sold in pharmacies that carries “Red Tongkat Ali” title. Due to lower acceptance and trust, perhaps you should consider twice from buying it from Amazon stores!

Here is our final verdict:

Proven Benefits
Research Publications
Health Risks

Our Top Pick

Yellow Tongkat Ali from Malaysia is the best due to decades of research on safety and potency. It is considered highly effective for health and it is safe at higher doses.

In short, our clear winner is the Yellow Tongkat Ali due to high scores in every criterion described above. 

Judging against criteria such as potency, a wide range of proven benefits, a wide number of research publications and no reported death or minimal health risks, Yellow Tongkat Ali remains the most popular and the best Tongkat Ali.

It is no surprise that Yellow Tongkat Ali (i.e Eurycoma Longifolia) continues to be the best Tongkat Ali for centuries.

In addition, Yellow Tongkat Ali is well researched for decades and safe to be used as a functional ingredient in novelty foods in many countries.

For example, the best Tongkat Ali coffee (KOFFEE) and Tongkat Ali effervescent energy drink (FIZZEE) contains Yellow Tongkat Ali extract, instead of Black of Red Tongkat Ali.

That is why the best Tongkat Ali supplement contains clinically tested yellow Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma Longifolia) extract.

Rest assured you are getting the best clinically tested bio-active ingredients from Yellow Tongkat Ali, compared to Black or Red Tongkat Ali.

If you are in doubt which is the best yellow Tongkat Ali brand, we compile a list of 20+ trusted Tongkat Ali brands that use Yellow Tongkat Ali. 


Naressa Khan contributes regularly on AKARALI. As a writer and journalist, Naressa is all about creating, deconstructing, and reassembling meanings through words. With this approach always in mind, she eagerly explores the nuances in life via the aspects of lifestyle, culture, travel, health, and wellness.

Dr. Annie George (PhD, MSc) is Head Scientist of Biotropics Berhad where she spends 20 years in botanical drugs including Tongkat Ali. She holds 11 patents in herbal research and published numerous papers on Eurycoma Longifolia.

Our articles are third-party reviewed by our panel of experts and medical advisors to ensure the facts are accurate and credible. These are validated against multiple source references which include but are not limited to research studies, peer-reviewed journals, pre-clinical studies, clinical tests and other credible publications.

Our panel of medical advisors and experts is highly experienced in their individual fields. However, they do not provide any medical advice or recommendations arising from content published in this article.

Disclaimer: Content published in this article is not intended to promote any brands nor to provide any form of recommendations to purchase or consume medication, drugs or herbal supplement brands directly or indirectly. By reading this, the sole responsibility and decision lies on the reader to perform their own assessment and / or to arrive at an informed decision based on publicly available information. By reading the content published on this website means you are aware on the risks involved in purchasing any of the products or brands mentioned in this article. We highly recommend you and the readers to consult your nearest doctor before making any purchase from this website or any other websites or social platforms after reading this article.

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