Fully green and facile redox chemistry involving reduction of colloidal iron hydroxide (Fe(OH)3) through green tea (GT) polyphenols produced water-soluble Fe3O4 nanocrystals coated with GT extracts namely epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and epicatechin (EC). Electron donating polyphenols stoichiometrically reduced Fe3+ ions into Fe2+ ions resulting in the formation of magnetite (Fe3O4) nanoparticles and corresponding oxidized products (semiquinones and quinones) that simultaneously served as efficient surface chelators for the Fe3O4 nanoparticles making them dispersible and stable in water, PBS, and cell culture medium for extended time periods. As-formed iron oxide nanoparticles (2.5–6 nm) displayed high crystallinity and saturation magnetization as well as high relaxivity ratios manifested in strong contrast enhancement observed in T2-weighted images. Potential of green tea-coated superparamagnetic iron oxide nanocrystals (SPIONs) as superior negative contrast agents was confirmed by in vitro and in vivo experiments. Primary human macrophages (J774A.1) and colon cancer cells (CT26) were chosen to assess cytotoxicity and cellular uptake of GT-, EGCGq-, and ECq-coated Fe3O4 nanoparticles, which showed high uptake efficiencies by J774A.1 and CT26 cells without any additional transfection agent. Furthermore, the in vivo accumulation characteristics of GT-coated Fe3O4 nanoparticles were similar to those observed in clinical studies of SPIONs with comparable accumulation in epidermoid cancer-xenograft bearing mice. Given their promising transport and uptake characteristics and new surface chemistry, GT-SPIONs conjugates can be applied for multimodal imaging and therapeutic applications by anchoring further functionalities.