What is Green Tea? Not many people know, green tea actually comes from the same plant from where regular tea is obtained. Scientifically, it is known as Camellia sinensis.
In fact, it is the same tea, but it is processed differently. The regular black tea is obtained by fermenting the tea leaves.
How Green Tea Is Made
This fermentation changes its color and flavor while raising the level of caffeine and tannin in it. On the other hand, in the case of green tea, freshly harvested leaves are quickly steamed to prevent fermentation, resulting in a dry, stable product. During that steaming process the color of the leaves are not disturbed allowing the tea to maintain its green color. And that's how you get Green Tea.
Green Tea Nutrition Facts
Along with caffeine, which gives green tea its characteristic taste, bitterness, and stimulating effect, green tea is also rich in a group of chemicals, called polyphenols. These polyphenols include flavanols, flavanols, flavonoids, and phenolic acids. Tannins are also a type of polyphenol that contribute to the bitter taste and astringency in tea.
The major polyphenols of green tea include flavonoids known as catechins, such as epicatechin, epicatechin 3 gallate (ECG), and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). These flavonoids are potent antioxidants and together with some amino acids like thiamine, are responsible for the potent flavor of green tea.
Furthermore, green tea also contains amino acids such as theanine, tyrosine,and leucine, xanthine alkaloids such as adenine, dimethylxanthine, theobromine, theophylline, and xanthine; carbohydrates such as pectin (also found in fruits), along with glucose, sucrose, and fructose; pigments such as chlorophyll, and triterpene saponins.
Vitamins, like vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, C, and E are also found in green tea. After that impressive list, perhaps you can begin to understand how packed green tea is with nutrients and beneficial components.
Health Benefits Of Green Tea
Click Here to watch 7 amazing benefits of Green Tea
The health benefits of green tea are primarily due to its antioxidant properties that come from its caffeine, catechin polyphenols, and theanine content. The primary health benefits stemming from its antioxidant content are listed below.
The free radicals created in the body are responsible for destroying the body in various ways, one of which we see as the signs of aging and its related symptoms. Antioxidant-rich green tea neutralizes the oxidants or free radicals present in the body.
The catechin polyphenols present in it are hugely responsible for its antioxidizing effects, the most powerful among them being the epigallocatechin gallate. Therefore, regular consumption of this tea can effectively delay the signs and symptoms of aging.
Has The Stimulating Effect
One of the primary reasons for the popularity and consumption of all kinds of tea by human civilizations is its stimulating effect. This effect, again, is due to the caffeine and tannins present in the tea leaves.
Caffeine and tannins, despite their potentially adverse effects on health, in the long run, act as potent stimulants. That is why a cup of tea makes you feel fresh and highly energized.
Tea is an easy and ideal solution to counter fatigue, laziness, sleepiness, and lack of energy, and to improve blood circulation. This is why it is so popular with a wide variety of people in various industries, including professionals, housewives, students, and anyone else who has ever felt a bit tired during the day!
Green Tea Boosts Immunity
Research shows that people who regularly drink green tea do not fall victim to common bacterial and viral infections as quickly as those who do not add it to their diet. Green Tea boosts the immune system. The catechins, present in green tea, prevent bacteria and viruses from attaching themselves to cell walls to infect them.
These catechins also counter the toxins released by microbes. This antimicrobial property also protects you from bad breath, dysentery, diarrhea, tooth decay, indigestion, flu, cough, and cold, and colitis, all of which are caused by the microbial and fungal action.
This is yet another powerful benefit of green tea. Astringent substances trigger contractions in muscles and tissues while toning up muscles and skin. Even if you do not wish to drink this tea, a simple, daily mouthwash with it can cause sufficient contraction in your gums to keep them firm and tight on the teeth, thus preventing loosening and loss of teeth.
You can also wash your hair with green tea and feel it grow stronger and healthier every day.
Green Tea Prevents Cancer
According to the National Cancer Institute, green tea is rich in polyphenols such as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that help in eliminating free radicals and may induce cell death or apoptosis in cancerous cells.
Apart from causing premature aging, free radicals are also responsible for producing certain types of cancer. The catechins present in green tea may help neutralize these free radicals, prevent the formation of carcinogens like nitrosamines and reduce the risk of cancer.
Breast Cancer: According to a study by Ogunleye AA, et al. (Harvard School of Public Health) there is no clear association between the intake of green tea and the risk of breast cancer.
Prostate Cancer: Another study by Kurahashi N, et al. suggests that the consumption of green tea helps lower the risk of advanced prostate cancer in Japanese men.
Colorectal Cancer: Findings of a study showed an inverse association between Colorectal Cancer risk and intake of green tea.
Further, more clinical evidence and large trials are required to support the use of this tea rich in polyphenols as a preventive measure against cancer.
Reduces Cholesterol Levels
Studies show that green tea significantly lowers LDL cholesterol( low- density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol) concentrations. Green tea is effective in lowering cholesterol levels to some extent, probably due to its alkalinity.
Improves Cardiac & Arterial Health
Specific components in green tea can also lower blood pressure reducing the risk of stroke and coronary heart disease.
If not taken with sugar, the alkaline nature of green tea helps reduce the blood glucose level. Moreover, the antioxidant and astringent qualities of green tea ensure good health and better functioning of the pancreas.
Improving the function of the pancreas means a more efficient and regulated secretion of insulin and the subsequent improvement in decomposing and absorbing of sugar.
This increase in active functions can help prevent the onset of diabetes.
Believe it or not, green tea also helps people lose weight by enhancing the rate of metabolism, thereby promoting a faster consumption of the fat storage of the body. Recently, green tea has replaced many other beverages as it helps in weight loss. Drink a cup or two of green tea every morning, and you are bound to lose a few pounds of excess weight over a week or so.
Boosts Stamina & Endurance
Just have a cup of hot green tea after some rigorous exercise, and you will be ready for a few more sets in no time. Furthermore, it effectively counters muscular pain due to overexertion of muscles.
Although green tea isn’t widely consumed due to the presence of energy drinks in the market, if you visit Japan and China, you will see that green tea is the premier beverage used by practitioners of martial arts and various other sports.
Detoxifies The Body
Green tea is the best cure for particularly savage hangovers and fatigue caused by the consumption of alcoholic beverages and lack of sleep. Green tea with lemon juice is a perfect and popular remedy to eliminate the exhausting effects of alcohol almost instantly.
Types Of Green Tea
Green tea has four main varieties prepared in Japan, which depend upon its leaf-length, method of processing, and season of harvesting.
They are as follows;
Gyokurocha: In this variety, the tea leaves are plucked from the tip of the branches. When brewed, the color is transparent green. Being picked from the tip, this variety has the best taste and fragrance, and this variety is also considered the best in terms of health.
Furthermore, it is less bitter, as it contains lesser tannin and caffeine since the plucked leaves are younger and still budding. The only drawback to gyokurocha is the high cost, but as we all know, genuinely high-quality solutions for health never come cheap!
Sencha: Sencha comes from the same plant, but in this green tea variation, the leaves are from the middle of the branch and are more significant, older, and less tender than Gyokurocha. This variety gives a bright, light green tea when brewed as well.
Naturally, it is more bitter and stronger than the former type. 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 which makes it very strong and bitter. When brewed, it gives a golden brown tea. This is an even cheaper version of green tea than the previous two.
Matcha: This is the leftover powder of green tea, also called “Dust.” It makes a beautifully green-colored tea and forms a lot of foam (carbonation), but has a weaker aroma than the green varieties.
This variety of green tea is prevalent in traditional ceremonies and is sometimes also called Ceremonial Green Tea. It is far less bitter than the other three types, so when you sip it, it seems to hold a natural sweetness, mainly if you are familiar with the different varieties.
Houjicha: Also spelled as “Hojicha,” this is not a pure or absolute green tea. Instead, it is a mixture of green tea and powdered roasted cereals such as wheat, barley, or rice.
The quality and price of this variety depend upon the percentage or ratio of green tea to cereal content. The better ones, which have more green tea in them, are more expensive and have a greener look when brewed, on the other hand, those with higher grain contents yield a golden brown color and are cheaper.
Genmaicha: Like Houjicha, this is not a pure tea either. It is a mixture of green tea and roasted brown rice. Upon steeping, it yields a golden yellow brew, very pleasant in both taste and aroma due to the presence of roasted brown rice.
Decaffeinated Green Tea: This is not a specific variety, but it is worth mentioning here. Any of the above types can come in a decaffeinated form.
Other Varieties: The main varieties mentioned above are blended in different combinations to produce much more types with different names, the number of which makes it pointless to list here. Basically, go to a tea shop and explore for yourself!
The risks associated with green tea are the same as those associated with any other kind of tea (traditional black tea, White Tea, etc.) and are primarily due to the content of caffeine and tannin.
The contraindications may vary with the percentage of caffeine and tannins in it. Most people might be familiar with these adversities, but it is still important to review and summarize the components responsible, as well as the associated risks.
Triterpene Saponins: These compounds destroy the red blood corpuscles (erythrocytes), which may aggravate preexisting conditions of anemia, and cause fatigue.
Caffeine: Everyone knows that caffeine is an external stimulant and raises blood pressure, and is actually toxic in nature (it may be fatal for some animals).
Caffeine is also addictive and can have adverse effects on the liver and internal organs throughout many years. That being said, it is the component of tea which makes it energizing and refreshing, which is why people are willing to risk it. Or get caffeine free green tea.
Tannins: Tannins interfere with the break down of complex proteins into simpler proteins and their subsequent absorption into the body.
Xanthine Alkaloids: Some researchers believe that these alkaloids aggravate and stimulate the formation of uric acid in the body, and thereby may trigger and aid the formation of stones in the gallbladder and kidneys.
Other Risks: Long-term consumption, in excessive quantities, may give rise to problems such as insomnia, restlessness, annoyance, irritability, headaches, hypertension, abnormal heartbeat, loss of appetite, spasms, constipation, and acute addiction to caffeine.
Many times, people who are addicted to caffeine do not feel normal without the substance and suffer from severe illness, irritation, and lack of concentration in the absence of green tea.
Availability Of Green Tea
Asian countries like Japan and China are the biggest producers of green tea (they produce the best quality too) and are also its biggest consumers.
Green tea available in other markets is found in far smaller quantities than black tea. Moreover, it is still gaining popularity, and you can get it at any modern shop.
You can also order it from a local tea supplier, over the phone or on the internet. It is almost invariably imported from China (cheaper) and Japan (more expensive) and is packed in sealed packs of 200 grams, 250 grams, and 500 grams.
Buy smaller quantities if possible, so that you get to make a fresh brew. Also, always check the date of manufacturing and packing before you buy.
Decaffeinating Green Tea
Since many people are aware of the potentially harmful effects of caffeine, many prefer to avoid it in their beverages, yet they want the vast array of benefits that green tea has to offer. Luckily, there are two industrial processes and one internal process for decaffeination of the drink, all explained below.
Health benefits Of Green Tea - Infographic
Industrial Process-1: In this procedure, green tea leaves are treated with ethyl acetate, which drains out most of the caffeine. Unfortunately, you lose many of the antioxidant, polyphenols, and vitamins along with the caffeine as well.
Industrial Process-2: This involves the processing of tea leaves with water and carbon dioxide and is better in terms of retaining the beneficial polyphenols.
Domestic Process: This is a straightforward process. It involves repeated steeping of tea in hot water and the disposal of the water (you may use this tea to serve those who don’t mind having caffeinated beverage).
The more you repeat the process, the less caffeine there will be left in the drink, but the same is true of the taste and flavor. Basically, don’t overdo it. Two or three steepings are probably safe.
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