What is Green Tea ?
Green tea is made using the leaves of the Chinese Camellia sinensis plant that are then applied to heat quickly after picking, either by steam or by dry cooking in hot pans. These methods minimizes oxidation, which is what is thought to give the green tea benefits we have heard so much about.
Green tea can help beat mouth cancer
Past studies have suggested that green tea helps prevent cancer and heart disease and lower cholesterol — and even ward off Parkinson`s and Alzheimer`s. In the latest study, the researchers examined the properties of the polyphenol called epigallocatechin 3 gallate (EGCG) in particular.
“EGCG constitute the most interesting components in green tea leaves,” the researchers reported in the journal Archives of Oral Biology. “All together, there is increasing interest in the health benefits of green tea in the field of oral health,” they said
The majority of green tea benefits seem to stem from the powerful antioxidants,called catechins, which scavenge your cells for free radicals that could otherwise damage DNA, and contribute to cancer, blocked arteries and blood clots.
Because of the minimal processing – leaves are steamed instead of fermented – green tea catechins are unique and contain a more concentrated form of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is the active ingredient that many studies have highlighted as the driving force behind green tea benefits.
Green tea’s impact on cancer and heart disease seems very promising, and many people have experienced life changing benefits as a result of taking it daily. Below is a comprehensive list of benefits you will attain with a regular dose of green tea.
Ancient Chinese people knew the benefits of green tea for health. They have always used it for medical purposes. However, in Ancient China, it was used especially against the headaches and depression. Green tea has a great importance in China history. It is produced from the leaves of Camellia Sinensis by some special processes. Unlike black tea, it has little amount of caffeine which causes to insomnia, nausea and frequent urination.
Quick benefits outline listed below:
- It is used to treat multiple sclerosis.
- It is used for treatment and prevention of cancer.
- It is used to stop Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
- It is used to raise the metabolism and increase fat oxidation.
- It reduces the risk of heart diseases and heart attacks by reducing the risk of trombosis.
- It reduces the risk of esophageal cancer.
- Drinking green tea inhibits the growth of certain cancer cells, reduces the level of cholesterol in blood, improves the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol.
- It is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular diseases
- It is used to treat impaired immune function
- Some researches show that, drinking green tea regularly may help prevent tooth decay by killing the bacteria which causes the dental plaque.
Health Benefits of Green Tea in Detail
- Lowers your risk of cancer. Although the studies of how green tea affects cancerous cells are still in their infancy, there have been human trials which indicate that it does inhibit cells from developing cancer. EGCG in green tea regulates and inhibits cancer growth by killing cells that are growing inappropriately. In Japan, a study of 500 women with Stage I and Stage II breast cancer found that increasing their green tea consumption before and after surgery significantly lowered the risk of recurrence. Another analysis of 22 studies of the correlation between green tea and lung cancer concluded that by increasing your intake of green tea by two cups a day may reduce the risk of developing lung cancer by 18%.
- Eases the pain of rheumatoid arthritis. Study results reported in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that polyphenol antioxidants in green tea benefits suffers of arthritis by reducing the incidence and severity of the disease. EGCG protects cartilage destruction and reduces joint swelling and pain. This leads many scientists and health professionals to recommend green tea as a legitimate remedy for treating arthritis.
- Stabilizes your cholesterol levels. Researchers believe that green tea lowers your cholesterol levels by reducing its absorption in your digestive tract and increasing the rate of which it is excreted. However, your body does need cholesterol to build cell membranes, insulate nerve fibres and create hormones. For this, green tea benefits you by preventing the conversion of LDL cholesterol into it’s more dangerous, oxidized form. Oxidized LDL is one of the main factors in the development of atherosclerosis (the build of plaque that blocks your arteries as LDL gets sticky and clings to your artery walls) and increases your risk of heart attack or stroke. The amazing antioxidant effects of green tea protect this, helping to keep your arteries clean.
- Prevents cardiovascular disease. A Japanese study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed significant reductions in deaths from cardiovascular disease among green tea drinkers. The study found that over an 11 year test period, individuals who drank more than 5 cups per day had a 16% less chance of mortality and mortality related to cardiovascular disease when compared to individuals who drank less than one cup per day. They also found that green tea was especially beneficially in preventing strokes, due in large part to the antioxidants and how they prevent clogged arteries.
- Boosts your immune system. Catechins, the antioxidant polyphenol compounds, have been shown to have a major impact in your immune system. Research conducted by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 2003 revealed that theanine, found in green tea, boosted the activity of the gamma delta T cells that form part of our adaptive and innate immunity. The study followed a group of coffee drinkers and a group of tea drinkers who each drank 600ml of their drink daily. Blood samples taken four weeks later quite clearly showed that production of these anti-bacterial proteins were five times higher in those drinking tea.
- Promotes weight loss. Both green tea and green tea extract have been shown to fight obesity and lower LDL cholesterol – both of which ultimately lead to a reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes. The polyphenols in green tea are extremely useful for dissolving triglycerides, a substance in the liver and small intestine made up of mostly sugar and fat, and this is thought to be the reason green tea benefits fat loss. EGCG is also known to stimulate your metabolism and accelerate weight loss. When combined with the caffeine in green tea, this causes your central nervous system to release fat into the bloodstream to be used as fuel which burns your body fat off.
- Reduces tooth decay. Antibacterial properties found in green tea are also used by your body to kill the bacteria that causes plaque on your teeth. Research by the Journal of Periodontology has also shown that for every cup of green tea you drink, there is a decrease in indicators for gum disease. Fluoride is also found in green tea which helps to protect against cavities.
- Effective in the treatment of multiple sclerosis. In 2007, Dr. Orhan Aktas from the Institute of Neuroimmunology conducted a study of how green tea benefits sufferers of multiple sclerosis. While current patients do not have many options to prevent tissue damage and disability, he found that the flavonoid EGCG found in green tea could have a huge impact on multiple sclerosis. He concluded that EGCG is capable of directly protecting against neuronal injury in living brain tissue and that EGCG constituents may open up a new therapeutic avenue for treating MS by combining anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective capacities.
- Slows the onset of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. A recent report published in the journal Phytomedicine has found substantial evidence that the enzymes found in green tea protect your brain cells from damage. Another study conducted by the University of South Florida looked at the effects of antioxidant EGCG. It was shown to be a protein blocker which prevented the chemical reactions that can lead to nerve damage that can lead to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
- Fights the cause of allergies in your body. Methylated epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) has been shown to block a cells receptor involved in producing an allergic response. By blocking the production of histamine and immunoglobulin E (IgE), two compounds in the body that are chiefly involved in triggering and sustaining allergic reactions, EGCG could very well be the compound which prevents you from having watery eyes, sneezing and coughing.
- Helps to fend off infections. Again, as one of the main benefits of green tea, EGCG has been highlighted by a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology as being able to prevent infections, including the HIV virus. EGCG binds with CD4 immune system T-cell receptors and stops HIV from doing the same to reduce the risk of infection. While it is still way too early to peg green tea as a cure for HIV, an Egyptian study has shown that combining antibiotics with green tea significantly boosts the effectiveness of the antibiotic. In fact, when tested against 28 disease-causing microorganisms, green tea enhanced the bacteria killing power in every single case.
- Reduces and prevents acne. Green tea benefits acne in a number of different ways. It’s antibacterial properties attack and kill the acne bacteria while the anti-inflammatory benefits of green tea reduce the swelling and redness. Antioxidants fight against free radicals which damage the skin and make it more susceptible to acne also help to balance hormone levels to help prevent future breakouts from happening.
- Slows the aging process to prevent wrinkles. One of the latest benefits of green tea is the effect it has on your skin and the aging process. It is again down to the antioxidants that prevent cell oxidation and damage that can make you look older than you really are. Studies are mixed on this particular green tea benefit as new research has come to light which suggests the full benefits can only be had by applying green tea topically to your skin. However, many people have found that potent green tea extracts do have a positive effect on their skin, leaving it softer, more supply and younger looking.
- BONES: Green tea leaves are rich in fluoride content. This helps this tea to keep your bones very strong. Consumption of green tea everyday can help improve and maintain your bones density.
Types of Green Tea: Green tea has four main varieties, prepared in Japan, which depend upon its leaf-length, method of processing, season of harvesting etc. They are as follows;
- Gyokurocha: In this case, the tea leaves are plucked from the tip of the branches. When brewed, the colour is clear green. Being picked from the tip, this variety has the best taste and fragrance. This is also considered best in terms of health and is less bitter, as it contains less tannin and caffeine, the leaves being younger and budding. The only drawback it has is that it is very costly. But then, there is price you need to pay for every good thing.
- Sencha: Sencha Comes from the same plant, but this time, the leaves are from middle of the branch and are bigger, older and less tender than Gyokurocha and gives a clear, light green tea on brewing. Naturally, it is bitter and stronger than the former variety. Being of less noble origin (middle of the branch) and having more caffeine and tannin, it is cheaper and more popular than Gyokurocha.
- Bancha: Bancha is made from the tender twigs of the tea plant and but obvious, it is very strong and bitter. When brewed, it gives a golden brown tea. This is further cheaper.
- Matcha: It is the leftover powder of green tea, also called “Dust”. It makes a beautifully green coloured tea and forms a lot of foam (froth) as well, but has a lesser aroma than the leafy varieties. This variety of Green Tea is very popular in the Ceremonies, sometimes also called Ceremonial Green Tea. It is far less bitter than its formers and hence when you sip it, it feels as if it is sweeter than them.
- Houjicha: Also spelled as “Hojicha”, it is not a pure or absolute green tea. Rather, it is mixture of green tea and powdered roasted cereals such as wheat, barley, rice etc. The quality and price of this variety depends upon the percentage or ratio of green tea to cereals. The better ones, having more tea in them, are costlier and give greener tea; while those, having more grains, yield a golden brown colour and are cheaper.
- Genmaicha: Like Houjicha, it is not a pure tea either. It is mixture of green tea and roasted brown rice. On steeping, it yields a golden yellow tea, very nice in taste and aroma, due to presence of roasted brownrice in them.
- Decaffeinated Green Tea: If not a variety, but it is also worth mentioning here. Any of the above varieties can come in decaffeinated form.
- Other Varieties: The chief varieties mentioned above are blended with different combinations to produce many more varieties with different names, not necessary to mention here.
To date, the only negative side effect reported from drinking green tea is insomnia due to the fact that it contains caffeine. However, green tea contains less caffeine than coffee: there are approximately thirty to sixty mg. of caffeine in six – eight ounces of tea, compared to over one-hundred mg. in eight ounces of coffee.
Risks associated with green tea are same as those associated with any other kind of tea (commonblack tea, White Tea etc.) and are primarily due to presence of Caffeine and Tannins in it. The contraindications may vary with the percentage of caffeine and tannins in it. Most of you might be familiar with these adversities, still, let me summarize the components responsible and the associated risks here;
- Triterpene Saponins: These compounds destroy the Red Blood Corpuscles (Erythrocytes) and thus may aggravate situations of anaemia, cause fatigue etc.
- Caffeine: Everybody knows that it is an external stimulant and raises blood pressure, actually toxic in nature (it may be fatal for lower animals), addictive and in the long run has adverse effect on liver and internal organs. But then, it is the thing in tea which makes it energizing and refreshing.
- Tannins: Tannins interfere with the breaking down of complex proteins into simpler proteins and their absorption in the body.
- Xanthine Alkaloids: There are possibilities that they aggravate formation of uric acid in the body and thereby may trigger off and aid formation of stones in gall-bladder and kidneys, rheumatism etc.
- Other Risks: Long term consumption and in greater quantities may give rise to problems such as insomnia, restlessness, annoyance, irritability, headaches, hypertension, abnormal heart-beats, loss of appetite, spasms, constipation and acute addiction to it. Many a times it is seen that people who are addicted to it do not feel motion and suffer from acute constipation, irritation and lack of concentration on anything in absence of green tea.
Determine how many cups of green tea you want to make. The original guideline for brewing is one teaspoon (5 g) of green tea leaves (or pearls) per one cup of water. This will yield one cup of brewed tea.
Measure out the desired amount of green tea leaves (or pearls) and place them in your tea strainer or sieve.
Fill a non-reactive pot or pan (glass or stainless steel) with water and heat it to about 180 °F (80 °C). You can use a candy thermometer to watch the temperature, but if you don’t have one, then keep an eye on the water so that it doesn’t boil.
Place the filled tea strainer or sieve into an empty mug or cup.
Pour the heated water into the mug, over the tea leaves.
Steep the tea leaves for 2 – 3 minutes but not any longer, or else your tea will become slightly bitter.
Remove the tea strainer from the mug.
Let your tea cool a few moments and enjoy your perfect cup of green tea.
- Filtered water is especially recommended, especially if your tap water has a distinct taste or smell.
- Some people shorten their preparation time by heating water in a microwave, however tea connoisseurs do not recommend this.
- A glass coffee press (if you’re making more than one cup) or a glass mug (if you’re making one cup at a time) will allow the tea to cool quickly, minimizing bitterness.
- If you drink a lot of green tea, consider installing a hot-water dispenser on your kitchen sink. The temperature is perfect for green tea.
- To re-use your tea leaves (or pearls) just plunge the tea strainer into a cup of ice water immediately after the steeping process. Depending on the type of tea you’re using, you should be able to get at least one additional use of your leaves or pearls.
- Add half a teaspoon of sugar if too bitter.
- If too weak, steep tea leaves until perfect.
When is the best time to drink green tea, before or after meals?
Joyce, if you are just starting to drink green tea, I recommend drinking tea in between meals. This is because green tea can cause stomach problems for some people, and drinking it around mealtimes do not help.
Also avoid drinking green tea before you go to sleep as it will keep you awake.
However, if you want to lose weight and fat, drinking tea around meal times will help block nutrition absorption, increase fat excretion and remove food toxins.
Personally, I drink green tea in between meals. If I want a tea to go with my meals, I would pick a more oxidised tea such as an oolong tea. It has been proven by research that oolong tea increases fat excretion. It is also more gentle on the stomach.