Since many centuries, in almost all the parts of this world, one of the most popular drinks recognized by health-conscious people is green tea. The reason behind its popularity is its enormous health benefits. The history of green tea goes way back to 600-900 A.D. when it was mentioned in a book named Tea Classic written by Lu Yu of Tang Dynasty. Another book named Kissa Yojoki written by Zen priest Eisai in 1191, mentions how green tea is beneficial for human body parts and what is the process of cultivation of tea leaves. After water, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world. However, 78% of the overall tea consumed all over the world is black tea and about 20 percent is green.
One really interesting fact about the green tea is that it comes from the same plant from which the black tea and oolong tea comes. Surprising, isn’t it? But it's true. All of these teas come from Camellia Sinensis plant. While black tea is prepared by the oxidation and oolong tea by withering of the leaves, green tea is prepared without any such process i.e. unoxidized and least processed. Hence, it contains a large number of antioxidants and beneficial polyphenols. It is produced majorly in China, Sri Lanka, India, and many other Asian countries and exported all over the world.
Another interesting fact about green tea is that it has been used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine to control bleeding and heal wounds, aid digestion, improve heart and mental health, and regulate body temperature.
Nutritional facts about green tea
The best part about having a cup of green tea as a beverage is that unsweetened brewed green tea is a zero-calorie beverage. As per the steeping duration and the quantity of the tea used, the amount of caffeine in a cup of tea will vary. Generally, green tea contains about 20-45 milligrams of caffeine per 8-ounce cup.
Green tea is very high in antioxidants, contains polyphenols which are anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic. Green tea has about 20-45 % polyphenols by weight, of which 60-80 % are catechins such as EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate).
Processing of green tea
The processing and growing of green tea decide the type of green tea which will be produced. These methods help in retaining the maximum amount of polyphenol and volatile organic compounds which are responsible for the distinctive aroma and taste of the green tea. The green tea plants are grown in two ways - under the sun and under the shade. The green tea is processed in various ways like sun-drying, tumbling, steaming, and even refrigerating. All these factors decide the taste, smell, color, and benefits of green tea.
Various benefits of green tea
When talking about the benefits of green tea, the most important is that it helps in improving your overall health in many ways. It significantly improves your metabolic system and thus improves the functioning of your body. All these benefits are summarized below.
- Green tea has chemical compounds called antioxidants - polyphenols (in the form of flavonoids and catechins) and Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) which is a category of powerful catechins. These compounds restrict the formation of free radicals in the body and thus help in protecting cells and molecules from getting damaged. Thus, green tea helps in reducing the aging process.
- Many studies are showing that green tea helps in fighting cancer because of the enzymes present in it. They restrict the growth of cancer tumor. Although there is no establishment of a direct mechanism of cancer prevention, there is a relationship between cancer prevention and tea consumption.
- The research has shown that there is increased connectivity in the cortices of the brain after consumption of green tea and hence improved brain function. The effect was specifically on the brain parts associated with the memory i.e. a cognitive function.
- Green tea contains L-theanine which helps in reducing anxiety and thus making you relaxed. L-theanine acts as a neurotransmitter which increases alpha waves in the brain. Alpha waves are considered to be an indicator of relaxation.
- A study shows that drinking green tea helps in lowering heart problems. As per this research, adults who drank green tea daily were found to be at 26% lower risk of heart attack or stroke.
- With its thermogenic properties, green tea helps in fat burning. Research has proved it and all over the world, people are opting for green tea for its weight reduction properties.
- Green tea acts as an anti-bacterial because it contains antioxidants called catechins. According to a research paper from Food Science Technology Bulletin, catechins like epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and epicatechin gallate (ECG), can restrict the overall growth of many bacterial species and hence keeps you healthy.
- An analysis of published studies in 2011 stated that having green tea as a beverage or in the capsule form resulted in significant but modest reductions in bad cholesterol.
- According to a study published in the journal - Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, drinking green tea on a regular basis reduces the risk of stroke.
- Another important benefit of green tea in promoting weight loss is that it reduces the overall appetite and helps in consuming fewer calories.
So, when the green tea has so many health benefits, you must be thinking if you should drink it as much as possible? Well, the simple answer is NO. Although green tea is good for health, an excess of it can be harmful to you as well. So, what is the optimum amount of green tea one can consume? Read further to know.
There are many factors associated with consuming green tea like how much to consume, when to consume, and how to consume. Here are all the details:
Best season to have green tea
Green tea is consumed throughout the year in most of the countries. But as per the Chinese medicine studies, green tea should be consumed more in summers than in winters. Weird, isn’t it? But they have the logic behind that. Chinese medicine considers less oxidized teas like green and white teas as cooling beverages and highly oxidized ones like red and black tea as warming. So, if you would like to follow the alternative medicine concept, you should avoid having green tea during winters.
Best time to have green tea
Green tea has many health benefits without any doubt. But it is not advised to have green tea as the first thing in the morning. As per the research study on a dietary supplement with green tea extracts, having green tea on empty stomach can seriously affect your liver.
So, when can you have it? Well, there are two important points here to be noted:
- Two hours before or after a meal: You can have green tea between any two meals, preferably two hours before or after the food for getting the maximum benefit. According to the National Cancer Institute, always try to avoid it having along with the meal, especially if you are anemic. The reason behind this is that catechins in green tea inhibit the digestion and absorption of iron from your food. Having green tea between the meals helps the body to absorb iron from your food.
- At least two hours before bedtime: Green tea contains caffeine which is a proven stimulant and highly disrupts the sleep. Also, the amino acid L-theanine present in the green tea which helps you to calm down but at the same time makes you more alert and focused. So, you should avoid it before the bedtime to get a sound sleep. Also, green tea is diuretic in nature which will urge you to go to the toilet frequently and disrupt your sleep. Hence, it is suggested to have your last cup of green tea at least 4 to 6 hours before your bedtime.
The optimum quantity of green tea to have
Green tea should be taken in a moderate quantity for maximum health benefits. Generally, two to three cups of green tea a day is optimum for your body. In other terms, you should restrict the consumption of green tea to 100 - 750 mg of GTE (green tea extract) per day.
The perfect way to brew your green tea
Brewing a perfect cup of green tea is very critical to reaping its maximum benefits. If now brewed in the correct way, the polyphenols which are beneficial for your body can affect the flavor of your cup of tea. The tea should neither be over-brewed nor be under-brewed. So, better to follow the instructions at the initial stage so that you can learn to make a perfect cup of green tea for yourself.
Steps to brew a cup of green tea:
- Boil one cup of water in the kettle and then allow it to stand for about 3 minutes.
- Put one teaspoon of pure green tea leaves in the cup and pour the hot water over it.
- Allow steeping for 3 minutes.
- Remove the tea bag and wait for another 3 minutes
- Now your tea is ready to drink
You can add other flavors to it like ginger, lemon, honey, etc. for taste. But avoid adding artificial sweetener or sugar to get the maximum benefit.
Side effects of green tea
There are few risks and complications you should be well aware of consuming green tea. They are important to be followed to avoid problems caused due to having green tea.
- Caffeine sensitivity: If you are suffering from severe caffeine sensitivity, you can experience insomnia, anxiety, irritability, nausea, or upset stomach.
- Blood thinners: Green tea contains vitamin K which should be avoided by those who take blood thinners (anticoagulant drugs). It is also advised to avoid green tea and aspirin because they both reduce the clotting effectiveness of platelets.
- Other stimulants: If green tea is taken along with any other stimulant drugs, it could increase the blood pressure and heart rate.
- Green tea supplements: They contain high levels of active substances that can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. Hence, always check with a doctor before starting any herb or supplement regimen with green tea.
So, moderation and drinking wisely is the right way to enjoy green tea and get its benefits.
We at teakruthi provide a vast range of various types of teas like black tea, green tea, oolong tea, and white tea. Our teas are exclusively cultivated in Sri Lanka and are specially packed to maintain its freshness, taste, and aroma. You can try our green teas for its rich health benefits. We would love to hear your experience. Please let us know your story in the comment section. Till then, enjoy your cup of tea, green tea!