For years, green tea was consumed almost exclusively in Asia. For centuries, green tea has been used by Chinese herbalists to treat many health maladies from menstrual difficulties to headaches. In China and Japan, most people drink green tea all day long.
However, here in the Western world it has gained popularity only in the last few years. There are many ways to enjoy green tea, and many things to learn about it. There are several differences between green tea and other types of tea.
Processing – Green tea comes from the same plant as black tea, but it is processed differently. Green tea, however, is not fermented like black tea.
Green tea leaves are laid out to wither for about 8 to 24 hours after plucking to allow most of the water to evaporate. Next, to prevent the oxidation (fermentation) process, the leaves are steamed or pan fried. Finally the leaves are rolled and then dried again, unlike black tea leaves, which are cut.
Flavor – Because green tea is in a very natural state, it tastes more plant like than black tea. Most people describe green tea as having a somewhat “grassy” taste. It is green and somewhat pale in color, and can become bitter if over brewed. Green tea can have subtleties and differences in aroma and flavor based on the variety of the tea plant and the region in which the tea is grown.
In addition, there are many flavored green teas. Green teas are blended with herbs or fruit to create a wide variety of flavors. Many people who don’t enjoy the taste of plain green tea love the combination of green tea with other flavors.
Serving method – Green tea needs cooler water than any other tea for proper brewing.
Water for green tea should be purified and heated to about 160F. It can be enjoyed with sweetener, milk or lemon if you prefer. Green tea can also be enjoyed cold. Keeping a pitcher of iced green tea in your refrigerator lets you enjoy its health benefits all day long.
Caffeine Content – Green tea contains only about half the amount of caffeine as black tea. Black tea contains about 40 mg of caffeine per serving, while green tea contains just 20. In addition, caffeine in tea has been shown to be less likely to cause jitters than other caffeinated beverages.
Health Benefits – Green tea has received a lot of attention in recent years because it has been shown in research to be very effective at preventing many diseases and even in treating some. The natural anti-oxidants in green tea make it one of the most powerful health protectors you can consume as part of your diet. Green tea may be effective in:
-Reducing your risk of some forms of cancer – Many different studies have supported the finding that green tea can prevent and possibly even help treat some forms of cancer. The first interest in green tea’s health benefits resulted from statistics showing that Asian cultures, where green tea is the most commonly consumed beverage, have the lowest incidences of cancer in the world.
Some studies have even shown that green tea compounds can inhibit the growth of cancer cells, slowing the progress of the disease. It appears that tea may be most effective at preventing bladder, colon, rectal, esophageal, bladder, liver, lung, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer.
-Lowering Cholesterol – Tea has been shown to be effective in lowering LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol). It appears that tea’s anti-oxidants work with HDL cholesterol to help transport bad cholesterol to the liver, where it can be passed from the body. Tea also appears to inhibit the formation of abnormal blood clots, which are the leading cause of heart attacks and strokes.
-Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis -Tea’s anti-oxidants may have the power to help prevent rheumatoid arthritis. In some studies, it has even been suggested that green tea may be able to ease symptoms of those already suffering with this disease.
-Help Lose Weight – Tea’s combination of catechins and caffeine appear to speed up the metabolism and may help with weight loss. In addition, it appears that using green tea as a diet supplement causes fewer instances of jitteriness and rapid heart rate than other diet supplements. It may also help regulate insulin in the body, which can be beneficial for diabetics. Many studies have shown that lifelong tea drinkers tend to weigh less and have less body fat than non tea drinkers.
-Prevent Alzheimer’s disease – Studies suggest that tea drinkers may also be less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Though the subject requires far more research, it has also been suggested that green tea’s potent anti-oxidants may even have the power to slow down the progress of Alzheimer’s disease in those already suffering.
Most people in the Western world still drink black tea over green tea. But, as you can see, there are many health reasons to make green tea a part of your regular diet. Green tea may be an important way to protect your health and prevent disease. And, it’s delicious, too!