As humans get more technologically advanced we become more sedentary. The more sedentary we are the worse our health becomes. Technology has made our lives easier but this comes with a price.
We no longer go out and hunt our food, work endlessly on farms to pick fruits and vegetables or walk for miles a day to get to where we need to be. What’s worse is that we also tend to grab the most convenient foods and drinks from fast food restaurants or grocery stores that are usually extremely unhealthy.
Due to these conveniences, it’s very important to keep track of your daily diet and exercise routines to stay healthy. Eating too much food and/or the wrong foods can lead to major health problems. Overeating food can lead to obesity, diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
The dangerous part about how advanced we have become is the way we produce our foods. Foods are now over processed and filled with toxic chemicals and pesticides. Consuming too much of these foods can produce cancers and cause unneeded suffering and early death.
The great news, though, is that the more health cautious we become the more we use our technology for good and start changing our bad ways. These changes do not need to be complicated.
All you need to do is include things in your diet to help you be healthier. This can be as simple as adding in green tea to your daily diet. Studies have shown that green tea can help combat or cure health problems because of the high amounts of antioxidants that can be digested easily by ingesting just a few cups of this powerful elixir each day.
WHAT IS GREEN TEA?
To understand what Green tea is, you first need to learn what tea is, in general. Tea is a beverage that is consumed by everyone around the world. It is also one of the most consumed beverages compared to juices and sodas. All tea comes from the same plant known as the Camellia Sinensis. In other words, anything that comes from a Camellia Sinensis plant is considered “tea”.
Different varieties of tea are created when parts of the camellia sinensis plant are processed and prepared in a certain way. These processing techniques vary to produce different kinds of tea such as black, oolong and white tea. Harvesting times and growing conditions are also important to this process. For example, black teas are made with fermented leaves which are responsible for developing distinctive flavors.
To get green tea, the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant are heated and dried as soon as they are harvested; before oxidation occurs and to prevent fermentation. When these leaves are added to hot water it will produce a light green color. The color it produces as well as the color of the leaves is the reason it’s called “Green Tea.”
These dried leaves are what are used to produce the other varieties. Before other methods were developed the only tea consumed is what we now call green tea. Green tea can also be found in different forms as well. It can be a loose leaf, in tea bags usually combined with other ingredients, extracts, and capsules and can even be found pre-brewed in bottles with sweeteners and flavors added.
Green tea has been used medicinally for decades because it yields enormous health benefits and is said to cure or treat certain diseases. Lately, green tea has been on a lot of scientists mind because of these beliefs. Studies have been conducted to prove if green tea is actually healthy or not and plenty of the studies have yielded a positive answer. Not only that, scientists may have figured out why green tea can be so beneficial to overall health.
GREEN TEA HISTORY
The exact discovery of green tea is unclear but what we do know is that it originated from China sometime before 1000 BC. It is believed that the Emperor of China discovered green tea around 2737 BC. The legend says that a tea leaf fell into a pot of water that Shan Nong, the emperor of China, was boiling.
He was so intrigued by the flavor that he shared it with his council and soon it was spread throughout the rest of China. Other theories suggest that Buddhists were responsible for the creation of green tea because they were seen drinking tea to help with meditation. They were also highly educated in the growth, harvesting and production of green tea.
In the beginning, most of the green tea produced was consumed by the wealthy. This was because of the theory that the Emperor of China discovered it and because tea plant cultivation was limited, it raised the cost. Once more tea plants were discovered, tea became very common with everyone in China including the poor. As a result, of the popularity of green tea, the Chinese government decided to plant more trees and create tea shops.
Green tea then made its way to Japan when a Zen priest visited China to study at the Buddhist monasteries. He then took what he learned to Japan and started producing it himself. Green tea made its way to the Americas when sailors on trade boats tried the beverage and took it back with them. Americans enjoyed it so much that they continued to ship the tea to American. Due to the high demand in America, the traders decided to tax the tea highly which lead to the Boston Tea Party.
To this day, China and Japan are still responsible for most of the growth and production of green tea. But these days, you can see green tea being grown in India, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Hawaii, South Carolina and many more places.
GREEN TEA PRODUCTION
As already mentioned, teas are created by the way the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant has been prepared. This includes harvesting time, weather conditions and how the leaves are handled after harvesting. Depending on where green tea is being produced is also different, as each country has their own techniques.
Planting – Tea plants grow the best in tropical climates so they must be planted during warmer times of the year. The most optimal time is spring because tea plants go dormant in the winter.
Harvesting – It takes about five to eight years for tea plants to produce high quality leaves. The farmer needs to pick the leaves at the best time; the leaves can’t be too small or too big or they will not produce the right flavor or potency.
Depending on the temperature and elevation, tea plants can be picked more than once. Hotter weather will produce more growth whereas cooler climates will produce less.
Once the leaves are harvested they then go through some traditional processing techniques. These techniques are referred to as withering, heating, rolling and drying. First, the leaves are exposed to sun for about two hours on bamboo trays. Then, to prevent oxidation the leaves are heated.
Next they are rolled into different shapes and lastly dried. China and Japan prepare their tea leaves in different ways before they shape them. In China, they will pan fry them in woks first and in Japan, they steam them quickly on bamboo trays over water.
OTHER TEAS VS. GREEN TEA
It’s a surprising fact to learn that all varieties of tea come from the same plant called the Camellia sinensis. The Camellia sinensis plant produces plenty of different kinds of tea that are well known around the world. Each tea has a different flavor, potency and even color. The only difference between most teas and green tea is how the leaves are handled or what process they go through to produce the different flavors.
Below are the different kinds of teas and how they are different from green tea:
Black Tea – To produce black tea, the leaves of the tea plant are left to oxidize or to ferment fully. The oxidation makes the leaves turn a dark brown color and it builds special compounds called theaflavins and theaurbigins. These compounds are responsible for the strong flavor that black tea traditionally has. Black tea contains less antioxidant qualities than green tea and needs to be brewed at higher temperatures.
Oolong Tea – Oolong tea or wulong, goes through similar processing steps as green tea but the leaves are intentionally bruised before the drying process. The leaves are bruised by shaking them in a bamboo basket. The leaves are then fermented or allowed to oxidize and then pan fried. This creates a semi-fermented tea that has full-bodied flavor with a sweet aroma.
White Tea – White tea comes from the youngest leaves of a Camellia plant. This tea got its name because the leaves are harvested while the buds are still covered with white hairs. This tea takes the least amount of processing and is considered very delicate. The leaves are withered and dried at low temperatures. There is no rolling and has the least amount of oxidation. This produces a light color with a mild sweet flavor.
Herbal Tea – Herbal teas are completely different from the other teas and green tea. Herbal teas are not actually true teas because the contents that make herbal teas do not come from the Camellia sinensis plant. Herbal teas are composed of leaves, fruits, bark roots and/or edible flowers that are infused together when brewed. These teas are naturally caffeine free.
In summary, most teas besides herbal tea are created by the same plant. The only difference is how they are processed. Such as how long the leaves are oxidized or fermented, how the leaves were treated like being intentionally bruised or shaped and how long they were dried.
The simplest difference is that black tea is fully fermented, oolong tea is semi-fermented, white tea is the least fermented and herbal tea is not actually real tea because it wasn’t even created by the camellia plant.
POPULAR VARIETIES OF GREEN TEA
As with any product, there are different varieties that people prefer over the other. This is also true for green tea. Each country that produces green tea has their special variety made by special techniques. These varieties are distinctive because of their different flavors that are produced by the different atmospheric conditions, processing, and handling.
Dragon Well – Also called Lung Ching, this is the most popular green tea in China. This variety of tea is produced in Longjan Village near Hangzhou, China. While being pan fried it is flattened along the inside vein of the leaf and then rolled. This process produces a sweet, nutty, buttery and freshly roasted flavor.
Gunpowder – This variety of tea is also produced in Longjan Village and is known for its distinctive shape. The leaves are rolled into pinhead shapes that resemble gunpowder. Gunpowder has a longer life shelf and has a higher amount of caffeine. This tea is commonly combined with spearmint to make Moroccan mint tea.
Chun Mee – What makes this tea unique is the shape. Before the leaves are pan-fried they are hand formed into the shape of an eyebrow which is where it got its name; Chun mee translates to “precious eyebrows” in English. This tea produces a smooth, medium-bodied and fruity flavor. This tea is popular because of its plum-like aftertaste.
Gyokuro – This is a unique green tea because it was not exposed to the full sun during the growth process. Growing the leaves under shade enhances the color and taste. This green tea is for people who would like a strong earthy taste to sip on.
Matcha – This green tea variety comes from the southern half of Japan and like Gyokuro green tea this green tea is also shaded before harvested. It sits in the shade for about two and a half weeks and then the best leaves get picked. What makes this green tea stand out over the others is that it is made into a fine powder. The leaves are de-veined and de-steamed before being stone-grounded. This form of green tea is whisked into the water and fully consumed. It has a grassy and sweet flavor.
Sencha – This is the most popular green tea variety in Japan making up about 75% of green tea production. This tea is exposed to full sunlight throughout the growing process. After the buds are harvested, they are steamed, dried and kneaded. Sencha green teas offer a sweet and umami taste with a nice finish.
If you have explored green tea before and did not enjoy it, you should try the ones above. Not only that, there are plenty more to offer. There are so many unique ways to create green tea that there is bound to be one you enjoy.
The differences, such as sun exposer and drying processes, all create individual tastes. If you want a bold flavor go for Gyokuro, if you want to go for mouth feel try Matcha.
Popular Brands of Green Tea
With all the brands of green tea available, it can be overwhelming. It can be hard to know where to start. The best bet to picking a brand is to head for the most popular. This is because a majority of people has tried them already and continue to buy them. Of course, with any product its best to review as many brands as you can to get the perfect fit for you tastes and preferences.
Below are a few popular brands of green tea consumed by Americans:
Lipton – Lipton is easily accessible at any grocery store and is an inexpensive brand. Lipton offers about six different flavors of green tea including one that is 100% natural with zero additives. This brand gets mixed reviews but many people say that for the cost, it is worth it.
Earl Grey – Earl Grey is another popular tea brand that can be found in most grocery stores. What makes this tea stand out from the rest, are the added oils for taste.
Teavana – Teavana stores can be found in many states as well as some locations in Canada and Mexico. The goal of this store is to provide fresh, high quality teas. Teavana offers about seventeen different varieties of green tea, of those the most popular is the Gyokuro Imperial Green Tea. The reason this brand of tea is so popular is because most of their teas are offered in loose leaf form.
Tazo – Tazo teas are a mixture of tea leaves, herbs, spices and botanicals to make them truly unique. These teas were popularized by Starbucks because they are generally found in these coffee shops. Tazo offers about twelve different varieties of green tea.
GREEN TEA USES
Green tea has been around for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. Some studies have concluded that green tea does have medicinal benefits that can improve the overall health of the body. These studies have lead us to plenty of other uses of green tea.
The following are uses of green tea and how they are beneficial:
• Skin Treatment – The substances in green tea are known to slow down the aging process and help keep skin looking young. Green tea can be used as a skin treatment to reduce red skin and acne. Some evidence suggests that it may even be used as a treatment for genital warts.
• Weight Loss – Studies have shown that green tea along with a healthy diet and exercise routine can promote weight loss. The antioxidants, nutrients and caffeine all work together to increase metabolism and energy to shrink those unwanted fat cells and fight off calories.
• Hair Treatment – The properties of green tea can improve hair growth because it stimulates the hair cells. Green tea also helps strengthen the hair and gives hair a moisture boost. To get these benefits you can either consume green tea as a beverage or apply it straight to the hair.
• Heart Health – Consumption of green tea can reduce the chances of cardiovascular disease. The compounds in green tea diminish inflammation. Inflammation of blood vessels is a major contributor to heart attacks and strokes.
• Mental Health – The active ingredients in green tea have also been known to lift brain fog. The antioxidants found in green tea reduce inflammation which allows more blood flow and oxygen to reach the brain. Better blood flow and oxygen to the brain increases the functionality. Studies have shown that green tea consumption may even protect against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
WHAT MAKES GREEN TEA SO HEALTHY?
Green tea has been used medically for thousands of years and still is to this day. Green tea has numerous amounts of nutrients, antioxidants and minerals that combat certain particles and conditions that prevent you from being healthy.
Green tea contains:
• Antioxidants – Antioxidants are chemicals that are responsible for preventing oxidation of cells. Antioxidants found in green tea are EGCG, catechins, l-theanine, and tannins that are responsible for fighting off free radicals. Free radicals are created from toxins and are responsible for aging and other health problems including cancer.
• Phytochemicals – Phytochemicals are compounds that are not necessary to the human body for sustaining life but do provide benefits that can prevent diseases. Polyphenols and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) are the two most promote phytochemicals found in green tea. Polyphenols stimulate cell function and enzyme production that can increase the health of your skin, brain and heart. EGCG can prevent cancer and increase brain function.
• Amino Acids – Amino acids are materials that make up proteins and are essential to our health. Amino acids are responsible for the formation of the skin, eyes, heart, intestines, bones and muscle.
• Vitamins – Vitamins are essential to our health because they are responsible for the function of our bodies. Green tea contains the vitamins riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, and pantothenic acid. Riboflavin also known as B2 is responsible for absorbing or breaking down other nutrients. Niacin, folic acid and pantothenic acid are all considered B vitamins and are responsible for converting food into energy. These B vitamins are important to the function of the skin, hair, eyes and nervous system.
• Minerals – Potassium and magnesium are minerals that can be found in green tea. Potassium is important to our body because it keeps cell membranes strong which is important to the healthy function of the heart. Magnesium is significantly responsible for metabolism, energy production, bone health, and cardiovascular health.
As you can, see green tea is packed full of nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants that our bodies really need to keep us healthy. Each mineral and antioxidants play a different part but it all comes down to keeping our hearts, bones, skin and organs strong and healthy. Without antioxidants, our bodies would be full of free radicals and ridden with cancers. Without vitamins and amino acids, our bodies would not survive. You only need to consume two to three cups of green tea a day to consume enough of these minerals and compounds to reap the amazing benefits.
COMMON HEALTH BENEFITS OF GREEN TEA
There are so many health benefits that it would be near impossible to talk about all of them but these next few are the most common and beneficial. The minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals and amino acids found in green tea are all responsible for these health benefits.
Lowers risk of type two diabetes – Polyphenols are responsible for lowering the risk of diabetes. Researchers believe that polyphenols may increase insulin activity as well as help regulate the pathways that signal the body to absorb insulin.
Weight loss – Green tea can promote weight loss because of the antioxidant EGCG. EGCG can increase metabolism and inhibits an enzyme from cutting of the supply of a hormone called norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is a fat-burning hormone.
Cardiovascular Diseases – EGCG is once again responsible for decreasing the chances of cardiovascular diseases. This is because it reduces inflammation in the body and increases the storability of the cell walls. When there is inflammation, oxygen and blood are not flowingly properly to the brain which can lead to stroke and/or cardiac arrest.
Cancer – EGCG, antioxidants and other phytochemicals prevent cancer because they fight off free radicals. Free radicals develop from toxins that enter into the body. Free radicals need to be limited because they attach to health cells and eventually terminate them.
When your body has a depleted amount of healthy cells, it can produce cancer or other health problems. Polyphenols may also prevent tumors from developing by improving the electrical synapses between cells.
Other health benefits of green tea include a reduction of stress, mental clarity, improved dental health and healthier skin. The powerful properties in green tea fight off free radicals responsible for aging and a decrease in health. They also improve the integrity of the cell walls increasing the strength of your heart. To benefit try to add about two to three cups of green tea a day. Your skin, hair and heart will vastly improve.
DAILY RECOMMENDATIONS AND POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS
Over drinking green tea may cause some possible side effects. As with any drink or food, it’s best to be safe and not abuse it. Even though green tea has amazing benefits, drinking too much does not mean you will increase those benefits. In fact, because of the natural caffeine found in green tea its best to stay within the recommendations. A safe range is between one to ten cups a day.
Remember though, to get the health benefits only two to three cups a day is needed to get all the minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals.
Below are some possible side effects to over consuming green tea:
• Sleep Problems – High doses of caffeine can keep you awake because it is a natural stimulate.
• Dizziness, diarrhea and headaches – These side effects are all caused by over consuming caffeine.
• Irritability or digestive issues – A substance called tannins is found in tea that may cause irritability or digestive issues when consumed on an empty stomach. Tannins is an antioxidant that can cause an increase of acid in the stomach. To avoid this simply drink your tea after or with a meal. Some people add fresh lemon juice to their tea to help cut down on heart burn or stomach acid.
• Anemia – People who have anemia should avoid green tea altogether because there may be a connection between consuming green tea and low iron absorption. Consuming green tea may even lower your absorption of iron even if you are not anemic. Studies have mixed information but many experts believe the cause is the tannins found in green tea. Tannins is an antioxidant that attaches to proline-rich proteins that could prevent iron absorption.
Over consuming green tea can even lead to death because of the high amounts of caffeine being ingested. Ten to fourteen grams of caffeine is considered a fatal dose. One cup of green tea, depending on the brand, averages about 35 to 70 milligrams of caffeine. One thousand milligrams equals one gram. You would have to consume a very large amount of green tea to even reach these levels; these chances are very thin.
Nevertheless, it’s important to keep track of your intake as well as other beverages that contain caffeine to decrease these risks. It is also important to note that consuming green tea while pregnant can cause serious developmental issues to the fetus.
The chances of having side effects all depend on how much green tea you consume.
Keeping track and only consuming while on a full stomach can risk your chances of developing any side effects. If you are pregnant or suffer anemia the best decision is to avoid it altogether. Caffeine can stunt the development of the fetus and antioxidants found in green tea can prevent absorption of iron. Stay within one to ten cups of tea a day, count in the caffeine you’re consuming outside of green tea, and you will avoid these side effects and reap amazing health benefits.
BREWING TECHNIQUES AND RECIPES
Making a perfect cup of tea may sound easy on the surface, but to get the most benefits that green tea has to offer there are certain steps you should take to brew the perfect cup of tea.
First, you should choose a good quality loose leaf green tea. Loose leaf green teas have shown to have the most nutrients and antioxidants compared to those found in a tea bag. They usually don’t include additional ingredients as well. Added ingredients can be harmful to the body and pretty much cancel out any of the good stuff you want instead. Second, you want to make sure you use filtered water. The goal here is to ingest minerals, not chemicals.
Next, you need to choose the right vessel to brew your tea in. Avoid plastics or paper materials because they can expose your body to toxic chemicals. The other options are ceramic, glass and metal. You can easily place the leaves in the teapot and drain the leaves beforehand as well. Make sure you start with a small amount of leaves first until you develop a palate or find the amount you prefer. When you buy your loose leaf teas make sure to find the recommendations on how much tea leaves you need for the amount of tea you want. Usually, they will have the amounts of leaves and water needed somewhere on the box.
Now you want to bring the water to a boil. Once it starts to boil turn off the heat and let it cool until it reaches about 175 degrees Fahrenheit. Adding the leaves too soon, while the water is still boiling, will make the tea taste harsh as it will be overcooked.
The moment the water reaches to about 175 degrees add the leaves and let it steep for about two to three minutes. If you decide your tea is not bold enough for your taste try steeping it longer rather than adding more leaves. After all these steps have been completed you are left with the perfect cup of tea that can be enjoyed simply on its own or in other recipes.
If you want to spice up your green tea, try these next few recipes below. The great thing about green tea is that no matter how you prepare them they are very simple. You can make it taste however you want as long as you find the right ingredients.
Lemon Honey Green Tea:
Find the highest quality of loose leaf green tea you can find and follow the directions listed. After the water has come to a boil, add a few teaspoons of lemon juice to the pot. Let it cool to about 175 degrees and add the tea leaves for about two to three minutes. Once the tea is done steeping pour it in your favorite tea glass and add about two teaspoons of honey or to taste. Now you have a sweet and citrus green tea that is even more packed full of antioxidants because of the honey. This is a great recipe for those of you who suffer major allergies or a head cold.
Minty Iced Green Tea with Ginger:
This recipe is perfect for those looking for a refreshing and cooling drink.
You will need:
- 4 Cups of water
- Loose leaf tea to your liking
- 2 to 3 Slices of fresh ginger
- One handful of mint
- Half a juiced lemon
- 1/4 Cup honey
First prepare the green tea as to your liking as instructed above except after the water comes to a boil add the lemon juice, ginger, and mint leaves and cover the lid while it cools down. Once it reaches 175 degrees, add the tea leaves and steep for about 2 to 3 minutes or until you are satisfied with the flavor. Strain the tea in a pitcher, add the honey and let cool. When the tea is cooled pour over ice. You can add some lemon slices and more mint leaves to the picture to make it extra beautiful and delicious. This recipe is perfect when you need to cool down after a hot summer day.
Berry Green Tea:
With this recipe, you can use any berry fruit you would like such as strawberries, blackberries or blueberries. Simply take a cup of berries and let them simmer in a pan with one cup of water. While that is simmering brew a pot of tea to the tastes and preferences you enjoy. When the berries have broken up add it to the cooled pot of tea and let sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours then strain. You can either enjoy this tea over ice or slightly reheat it. If you would like more sweetness add some honey or stevia for natural sweetness.
Making tea is relatively simple and will produce a high-quality pot of tea if you follow these guidelines. It’s important to source the best quality of tea to get the most benefits and flavor. Loose leaf teas will be the healthiest because it won’t have any filler ingredients or toxins added. Try to avoid adding the leaves to boiling water or it will result in overcooked leaves resulting in a bad flavor.
Green tea is a beverage consumed and enjoyed by a majority of Americans that comes from a plant called Camellia sinensis. The leaves of the camellia sinensis plant are harvested then heated and dried with the least amount of fermentation possible to produce what we call green tea. Green tea gets its name because of the color of the leaves and the product it makes when steeped.
Green tea has been around for over 3000 years and has said to be created by the emperor of China. It enters America around the 1600s through the international trading markets.
Most of the green tea supplied to America, to this day, is still from China and Japan. To properly produce green tea camellia sinensis plants need to be planted in a tropical climate. After about five to eight years they will be ready to harvest. After the leaves are harvested they are sometimes weathered in the sun, shaped and then dried.
Remember, all teas are produced by the same plant; it’s just the way that they are processed that determines what kind of tea they are and what health benefits will be included. Black teas are made from highly fermented leaves, oolong tea is made from leaves that are slightly fermented and intentionally bruised, and white teas are created by harvesting them while the buds still have white hairs and have only been slightly oxidized.
The only teas that are not made by the camellia sinensis plant are herbal teas. These are teas that are not actually teas at all just an infusion of plants, fruits and spices. But, today you can get green teas that are infused with herbs, fruits and spices too.
Each country produces different varieties of tea to promote different flavors, colors and/or textures. This is due to when they are harvested, how much sun is exposed to the leaves and how they are shaped.
Green tea in particular, can be used to promote better health, increase moisture in the skin and repair damaged hair. Antioxidants, minerals and vitamins work to strengthen overall health.
Studies have shown that daily consumption of green tea can improve cardiovascular health, improve type-two diabetes, and help prevent Alzheimer’s and cancer. Green tea can even help with weight loss, mental clarity and stress reduction.
To take advantage of all the benefits green tea offers it’s important to start slow. As with anything added to your diet, you don’t know how it’ll affect you until you try it. To get started, try adding in a few cups of tea at a time.
The best thing you can do to help you get started is to research everything so that you can be sure that you are getting the best tea and preparing it in the most beneficial manner. This can help you find the brand of tea that is right for you. To stay safe, ensure that you do not have more than 10 cups of tea (or other caffeinated beverages) a day so you can avoid over-consumption of caffeine, which can be dangerous.
This will prevent you from suffering any possible side effects such as insomnia, diarrhea or headaches.
To brew the best cup of tea and keep you wanting more, find the highest grade of loose leaf green tea you can. Most people think you need to add the leaves while the water is boiling but because green tea leaves are so delicate this can ruin the flavor.
The best time to add your leaves is when the water reaches about 174 degrees Fahrenheit. You can even add in some fruits or honey to make the taste even more enjoyable. To get all the health benefits that green tea offers you need to drink about three cups a day.