Green tea is often lauded for the many amazing health benefits that it touts. However, in Asia, the birthplace of tea, green tea is widely enjoyed not only for medicinal effects, but for the many dimensions of flavor that can be experienced through the different varieties. In China, there are nearly as many varieties of green tea as there are towns.
Green tea, which is unfermented tea, remains the most popular tea in Asian countries such as China and Japan. In fact, up until the eighteenth century, it was also the most popular form of tea in Britain as well. Imports of green tea into the United States outpaced black tea until about 1915. Much of the tea dumped into the Boston harbor during the Boston Tea Party, was in fact green tea. Thus it is unlikely that the harbor turned to a copper color!
Green tea is the palest in color, ranging from light green to light yellow in color. Green tea is not oxidized; the leaves are steamed or baked immediately after being plucked. They are then rolled and dried allowing the leaves to remain green in color. Green tea is made from both new buds as well as young leaves – “pluckers” take ‘two leaves and a bud’.
About ninety percent of the world’s green tea is produced in China. While most of the world’s black tea comes from countries such as Sri Lanka (Ceylon), India, Kenya, Indonesia and Argentina, these countries produce little, if any, green tea. Several hundred varieties of green tea are made in China alone. Some of the most popular include Gunpowder, Hyson, Imperial Green, and Gyokuro (Japan). A cup of green tea is generally much lighter than other teas. While Asian cultures have believed for centuries that green tea has properties beneficial to human health, modern science is just now discovering that this may be true.
What’s Green Tea Made Of?
The healthful properties of green tea are largely attributed to polyphenols, chemicals with potent antioxidant properties. In fact, the antioxidant effects of polyphenols appear to be greater than vitamin C. The polyphenols in green tea also give it a somewhat bitter flavor.
Polyphenols contained in teas are classified as catechins. Green tea contains six primary catechin compounds: catechin, gallaogatechin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin, epicatechin gallate, and apigallocatechin gallate (also known as EGCG). EGCG is the most studied polyphenol component in green tea and the most active.
Green tea also contains alkaloids including caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline. These alkaloids provide green tea’s stimulant effects.
What Green Tea Is Used For
Green tea and green tea extracts, such as its component EGCG, have been used to prevent and treat a variety of cancers, including breast, stomach, and skin cancers.
Green tea and green tea extracts have also been used for improving mental alertness, aiding in weight loss, lowering cholesterol levels, and protecting skin from sun damage.
How Green Tea Is Used
Green tea is usually brewed and drunk as a beverage. Green tea extracts can be taken in capsules and are sometimes used in skin products.
What Makes Green Tea So Special?
The secret of green tea lies in the fact it is rich in catechin polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is a powerful anti-oxidant: besides inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, it kills cancer cells without harming healthy tissue. It has also been effective in lowering LDL cholesterol levels, and inhibiting the abnormal formation of blood clots. The latter takes on added importance when you consider that thrombosis (the formation of abnormal blood clots) is the leading cause of heart attacks and stroke.
Green tea is often lauded for the many amazing health benefits that it touts. However, in Asia, the birthplace of tea, green tea is widely enjoyed not only for medicinal effects, but for the many dimensions of flavor that can be experienced through the different varieties. In China, there are nearly as many varieties of green tea as there are towns. Adagio Teas continues to sell the finest loose green tea you’ll find, and now offers many varieties in a convenient gourmet tea bag as well.
Components And Benefits Of Green Tea.
Today, hundreds of millions of people drink green tea globally for its health benefits. Various studies into the effects of green tea have been presented in recent years. Though these studies are still incomplete and inconclusive, they are pointing strongly toward having a key factor in achieving and maintaining good health. The health benefits of green tea are varied, mainly because its chemical makeup gives positive affects to many different bodily systems. It makes sense that many of us consume green tea to achieve those benefits. Basic breakdown of green tea components and its benefits are as follows:
Catechins (polyphenol) - The healthful factor of green tea is largely attributed to this chemical component. It reduces incidence of cancers, reduces oxidation by active oxygen, prevents cavities (because of its high content of flouride), increases metabolism, lowers high blood pressure and cholestrol, inhibits increase of blood pressure, inhibits increase of blood sugar, kills bacteria and virus, fights cariogenic bacteria, improves digestion, and prevents bad breath. The average cup of green tea contains about 50 to 150 milligram polyphenols.
Vitamin C – Reduces stress and prevents flu.
Theanine (amino acid) – Promotes neural function balance and inhibits increase of blood pressure.
Vitamin E – Prevents aging, prevents hardening of arteries, and promotes cholestrol balance.
Dietary Fiber - For every 100 gram of green tea, you can consume 10 gram dietary fibers. It improves intestinal activity for digestion.
Studies suggest that 3 cups or more of green tea daily can provide protection against cancer. However, manufacturers offer extracts that can be taken in pill form. A typical dosage is 100-150 mg 3 times daily of a green tea extract containing 80% total polyphenols. Whether these extracts offer any benefit remains unknown.
What the Science Says About Green Tea
Laboratory studies suggest that green tea may help protect against or slow the growth of certain cancers, but studies in people have shown mixed results. Some evidence suggests that the use of green tea preparations improves mental alertness, most likely because of its caffeine content. There are not enough reliable data to determine whether green tea can aid in weight loss, lower blood cholesterol levels, or protect the skin from sun damage.