WHAT’S GREEN TEA?
Green tea is one of the healthiest drinks on earth! It ranks second in popularity among the six types of tea. All tea originated in China and is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Tea types differ based on how the tea leaves are processed. Each tea type has unique health benefits.
Throughout the millennia, the Chinese culture had believed Green tea to be the secret to health and longevity.
Did you know that in China, the Tang Dynasty period is the golden era of tea? That was more than 1,000 years ago! Back then, tea was ground into powder from tea cakes. Then it was cooked in boiling water with ginger, citrus peel, and onions into soup!
Today, in addition to China, Japan also produces exceptional Green tea. Loved by billions of people around the world, Green tea is known for its well-researched health benefits.
So let’s take a deep dive to discover what makes Green tea such a marvelous drink. Start with a few basics first:
TYPES OF GREEN TEA
Green tea comes mainly in two types: Chinese Green tea and Japanese Green tea.
Famous Chinese Green tea includes Dragon Well (or Lung Jing), Bi-Lo Chun, Gun Powder, and more. Chinese Green teas taste elegant, refined, and delicious. Traditionally, Chinese tea masters like to mix Green tea with floral notes such as Jasmine to imbue fragrance. Heard of Scented Tea (also called Yellow tea?) Chinese Jasmine Green Tea is a typical example of Scented Tea.
Japanese Green tea includes Matcha Green tea and Sencha which have become household names.
Ever wonder how tea spread from China to Japan? It’s a fascinating chapter in tea history!
HOW IS GREEN TEA PROCESSED?
Compared to Black tea and Oolong tea, Green tea is relatively easy to process. It can be produced within a day. First, tea leaves are plucked, then sun-dried, followed by steamed-green 蒸青 to stop oxidation. This process preserves the leaves’ green color. Hence, Green tea.
The gentle processing preserves the bountiful antioxidants naturally found in the leaves. Most of the antioxidants in Green tea are catechins, particularly epigallocatechin (EGC) and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a type of flavonoid.
Some other Green teas, such as Matcha Green tea, undergo different processing methods. For example, the tea plants are partially grown in the shade, giving Matcha a unique flavor and higher antioxidant content.
GREEN TEA HEALTH BENEFITS
Green tea brings wellness qualities that benefit the body internally, externally, and mentally. In addition, Chinese culture believes that drinking tea is a philosophy or Cha Do. This was first promoted by tea sage Lu Yu of the Tang Dynasty.
Internal Green Tea Health Benefits
Green tea benefits the body’s internal systems in many ways. For example:
Improves blood circulation
The antioxidants contained in Green tea promote vascular health and blood circulation. Green tea has the effect of widening the body’s blood vessels, improving blood flow.
Lowers LDL cholesterol
A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that Green tea reduces LDL cholesterol (the bad kind).
Prevents high blood pressure
The catechins in Green tea help lower blood pressure by relaxing the muscles that line our blood vessels.
The antioxidants open up the ion channels in the blood, further improve blood flow, and reduce the risk of high blood pressure.
Increases bone density
According to a research study, drinking one to four cups of Green tea every day can reduce the risk of hip fracture. The report also found polyphenols in Green tea improve overall bone density and reduce bone loss.
Promotes heart health / Prevents heart disease
Research shows that drinking Green tea daily reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, the heart attack chances are reduced due to lowered cholesterol and improved blood circulation.
Reduces risk of stroke
A comprehensive Japanese study showed drinking daily four cups of Green tea lowered the risk of stroke by about 20 percent. This study involved 82,369 men and women, lasting 13 years! <In research, this is called a longitudinal study. Wow!>
Improves insulin sensitivity
Green tea catechins (GTC) can improve insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes by reducing blood sugar/glucose levels.
Combats cancer cells
Because Green tea is non-fermented, it goes through gentler processing. As a result, the tea leaves are rich in catechins, which reduce tumor growth. Green tea even aids in cancer prevention, especially lung cancer and other types of cancer as well.
Burns more fat (promotes weight loss)
Research shows that drinking Green tea enhances fat burning, leading to weight loss! A Cochrane Systematic Review found that people who drink Green tea can lose nearly 8 pounds more weight over 12 weeks than those who don’t. <Great news for skinny-jean lovers!>
Promotes good oral health
Drinking Green tea regularly can protect against cavities and fight gum disease. A 2016 study found that Green tea can reduce oral bacteria and promote healthy teeth and gums.
Gives good breath
A 2012 study found that organic compounds in Green tea inhibit the growth and activity of infectious bacteria. There are even Green tea-based mouthwash products, which can prevent plaque formation on teeth. <hey, chances are much higher for you to get a kiss rather than a handshake on the first date.>
Helps people with arthritis
Did you know that chronic inflammation has now been recognized as the cause of many infectious diseases? So the key to staying healthy is to reduce inflammation in the body—constantly.
Rich in polyphenols, Green tea is packed with antioxidants, which reduce free radicals. Free radicals cause inflammation in the body. So drinking Green tea can boost your antioxidants to reduce inflammation and lowers your overall risk of infectious disease.
In Green tea, research studies found two beneficial components called catechins showing antimicrobial properties. Green tea’s high concentration of EGC and EGCG comes with a remarkable ability to treat and prevent infections.
Slows the aging process
Yay! Everyone wants to look younger. Green tea is well-known for its anti-aging properties due to its high antioxidants, which combat oxidative stress and slow aging. This is why Green tea extract is a prevalent ingredient in cosmetics/skincare.
External Green Tea Health Benefits
So, what external benefits does Green tea bring? Here are the major ones:
Enhances skin complexion
Who doesn’t want the healthy glow? When you take a sip from your hot cup of Green tea, the steam wafts those free radical-fighting antioxidants directly into your skin. That’s how Green tea drinkers get that beautiful, healthy glow. <Hello, Japanese ladies!>
Combine dry Green tea leaves with raw sugar, olive oil, and honey to make an excellent homemade exfoliating scrub!
Acne happens when the oils in your skin produce excess amounts of sebum. The sebum clogs your pores and stimulates bacterial growth.
Green tea prevents acne when applied topically, due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. In addition, the catechin EGCG lowers lipid levels, reducing sebum excretions in the skin.
EGCG’s ability to reduce sebum excretions also helps keep the pores nice and tight. In addition, the tannins in Green tea behave like astringent and shrink your pores.
To get the pore-tightening benefit, soak a clean washcloth in Green tea and apply it directly to your skin
Reduces circles under eyes
If you’re feeling tired or simply want to minimize the bags under your eyes, Green tea bags can help!
Make a cup of tea using two Green tea bags. Let the tea bags cool to a comfortable temperature. Then place a tea bag on each eye. Rest for 10 minutes or so. You can also chill the used Green tea bags in the fridge. Cucumber slices are great for reducing eye bags, chilled Green tea bags are even better!
If you spend too much time in the sun, drinking Green tea will help heal your sunburned skin quicker. Green tea contains tannic acid and theobromine. They act as pain relievers and can heal damaged skin.
Make a cup of tea using a Green tea bag as usual. Then place the used tea bag (let it cool down) directly onto the sunburned area of the skin.
Increases hair growth (or prevents hair loss)
Healthy hair alert! Green tea can also promote hair growth and re-growth! Research shows that the catechin EGCG found abundantly in Green tea promotes hair growth.
Mental Green Tea Health Benefits
Finally, drinking Green tea offers mental health benefits as follows.
Improves brain function
Research studies have shown drinking Green tea can improve the working-memory center of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. It can block the formation of plaques in the brain and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
A research study demonstrates EGCG improves the antioxidant system, learning, and memory function in rats with Alzheimer’s.
Calms yet invigorates
Green tea also contains calming properties that can soothe those who suffer from anxiety. The large quantities of L-theanine in Green tea help reduce stress.
Here’s how it all works. Antioxidants like EGCG are abundant in Green tea.
- EGCG makes people feel calmer and improves memory and attention all on its own.
- L-theanine has a similar effect on memory and attention when it is consumed in combination with caffeine.
- Caffeine improves mood, alertness, and cognition. So when you combine caffeine, L-theanine, and EGCG, you’ve got a cup of tea that does absolute wonders for the brain!
Have you tried mid-day meditation with tea? I find this to be a wonderful escape to relax the mind and body. Pick a quiet place (a garden or a room), and turn off all of your electronic gadgets. Be one with the brewed Green tea. Just for 10-minutes. I call this my Zen TeaTime.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF GREEN TEA?
Overall, Green tea is one of the healthiest beverages, so the negative side effects are minimal. However, people develop all kinds of allergic reactions to foods. And Green tea does contain caffeine so people who are sensitive to caffeine should be aware and take precautions. I also recommend the following:
- Avoid drinking Green Tea on an empty stomach
- To ensure a good sleep, don’t drink Green tea late in the day (I usually stop drinking caffeinated tea around 3 pm.)
- Like all things, moderation is key. What’s a good amount? Personally, I brew a pot using loose tea leaves after lunch and steep it multiple times.
BEGIN YOUR GREEN TEA JOURNEY
And there you have it! I hope you enjoyed reading the bountiful health benefits of Green tea! What a marvelous beverage. I’ve been a tea drinker all of my life and am grateful for the wonders of Green tea. Exhilarating yet soothing, Green tea benefits the whole body from the inside out!
Cheers to your good health and to Green tea! To follow my tea adventure, sign up for my newsletter here. Happy sipping.
Disclaimer: This article (including health/wellness tips) provides general information only and is not intended as medical advice. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. 9 Dragons Tea does not claim responsibility for this information.